On June 13th, the Turlock Parks, Recreation and Community Commission made the much-anticipated decision to approve the renaming of the Turlock Skate Park to the Brandon Koch Memorial Skate Park, in honor of Brandon Koch, who recently passed away due to Adrenocortical Carcinoma.
The decision came after months of effort from Koch’s friends and family, who started the process with an online petition that received over 1000 signatures to date. Although the City of Turlock does not formally require petitions as part of the renaming process, the Commission seemed to be moved by the amount of community members whose lives were touched by Brandon Koch.
At last months meeting, numerous friends and family members of Koch piled in the meeting room to discuss the issue with the Commissioners during the public comment period. The Commission agreed to have the item placed on this month’s agenda, as City policy requires the Commission to hold a Public Hearing on the issue before passing it forward to the City Council.
“Thank you for your time and your consideration,” stated Judith Suliman, Brandon Koch’s aunt, to the Parks and Recreation Commission. “It means a lot to us and our community.”
Similar to last month’s meeting, a vast number of supporters, friends, and family members gathered at the meeting to share their memories of Brandon, and why they believed the park should be renamed in his honor.
“Every day at the Turlock Skate Park, he’d always take the time out of his time skating to help some little kid who was learning to skate,” stated Zachary Wagner, a long time friend of Koch. “Some of those kids would have gotten into alcohol, drugs, gangs…but he created a positive outlet in their life.”
One of the attendees, Andrew Ellis, was one of Koch’s ‘students’ whom he taught to skateboard.
“Before I met Brandon, I couldn’t even stand on a board, and now I’m doing tricks I never even thought I could do,” stated Ellis. “He was an awesome guy and everybody loved him.”
Commission Chair Barney Gordon shared his sympathy for the friends and family of Koch, along with sentiments of support for their cause.
“Although the City’s criteria for renaming parks is pretty steep, one of them is to make a contribution to the community,” stated Gordon. “From what I’ve seen, he definitely contributed to the patrons of that skate park, and greatly to the community.”
Commissioner and City Council Candidate Steven Nascimento also shared his thoughts with those in attendance expressing his support.
“Even though he may not have been doing it in any official capacity, he was serving them and bettering our community,” stated Nascimento. “I think he meets that threshold.”
The Commission voted unanimously to pass the resolution on to the City Council, as the final decision ultimately lies at their discretion. In the meantime, City staff will help the family of Koch throughout the process, as the time frame for the item to get placed on the City Council agenda is uncertain at this time.
“Our heart goes out to you with your loss,” stated Gordon. “We wish you luck.”