It’s been two years since Lancaster’s 14-year-old Bryce Buchholz was killed by a drunken driver while riding home on his beloved orange BMX bike with a friend.
Now, his family and community’s dream to remember Bryce by creating a safe place for children to skateboard and do stunt biking is on the cusp of becoming reality.
The village’s Keysa Park is about to become home to the Bryce Buchholz Memorial BMX/Skate Park, a $275,000 project. In the last week, the area has been fenced off, an excavator is on site, some digging has begun, and an existing playground has been relocated within the park. Actual construction by California Skateparks from Southern California is expected to begin in about a week, with completion anticipated in mid-September.
“It means the world to me. It will also mean the world to the kids,” said Bill Buchholz, Bryce’s father who has been central to the effort to raise $275,000 for the skateboard and bike park’s first phase. “The kids have been asking about it. These kids don’t have a place to go. That’s why they’re out on the streets and sidewalks.”
The Bryce Buchholz Memorial Fund raised $227,000 toward the first phase.
For Bryce, a student at Lancaster Middle School, learning to do new tricks on his “Sunday Orange Soda” bike was his passion. “That was, so to speak, his car. He would wash it and clean it. It wouldn’t go in the garage, but was kept in the basement,” his father said in an interview Thursday.
The May 3, 2012 tragedy devastated his family and friends. But when a group of school administrators approached Bill Buchholz at his son’s wake with the idea of building a skate park, it was the seed for something hopeful. “I said I’d really want to help. I don’t want to just sit home. I need something to do,” Buchholz said.
And that he did, with lots of help from family, friends and the community at large.
“I think Bryce would have a big smile on his face. He’d be loving it,” Buchholz said of what his son would think of the park. “It will be a multi-use park. It’s a facility for all extreme sports of this kind.”
The 12,500-square-foot concrete park represents the first phase with a street park design, featuring a series of stairs, walls and rails, which would appeal to skateboarders and stunt bike riders. A memorial garden with brick paver paths also is being created at the bike park entrance leading to a memorial stone in Bryce’s honor.
The community has rallied behind the push for the skate park through golf tournaments, Christmas party fundraisers, business donations and Lancaster cheerleaders’ basket raffle. And in the midst of Lancaster’s July Fourth parade, Buchholz and his sister, Anne Farmer, were named Citizens of the Year for the Village of Lancaster for their strong effort to help provide a safe place for children to skateboard.
“They have embraced the community to try to reduce the amount of exposure, so it doesn’t happen to another child. It will be a destination for the future children and young adults of the area,” said Lancaster Deputy Mayor Kenneth L. O’Brien III. “It was a huge effort they took on to obtain funding to do this.”
“This has touched so many people in Lancaster. He was such a wonderful boy, but it’s more than that,” said Angela Watz, project coordinator and a close family friend, and whose son, Joseph, was friends with Bryce. “It’s a reminder to stop and think about what you’re doing. Our children are a commodity. We need to protect them. They are our future. We want to give them a safe place to be. This should be that place. This is in their souls.”
The Bryce Buchholz Memorial Fund wants to find out from children who use the park what else they’d like to have there in a future second phase. Buchholz hopes to eventually have a path with bike and skateboarder “elements” leading from Westwood Park to the industrial park off Commerce Drive and through an open field, linking it to Keysa Park.