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Panel delays vote on La Jolla skate park

Rec council wants to hear more details

La Jolla Parks & Recreation Inc. board’s members last week rejected their president’s call for an up or down vote on the idea of adding a skate park at the Recreation Center.

Park board President Chip Rome said the proposal to consider adding a skateboard facility as part of the planned redevelopment of the center on Prospect Street had been aired at each of the last two meetings.

“Doesn’t the rec council oversee the Rec Center?” he asked, adding that he felt it was entirely appropriate to pose the question: “Do we want a skate park in La Jolla, period?”

But at the start of the March 24 meeting, board member Mary Coakley asked that Rome’s agenda item be removed and got a 10-2 vote on her motion.

“This is a very big issue and shouldn’t be put to a vote until there is more information,” she said.

Board member Darcy Ashley agreed, noting, “There isn’t an application for us here to approve or disapprove, just bare bones.”

Marnie Gavit, a mother of three who is a new rec council board member, is leading a crusade to address what she sees as a glaring unmet community need: a safe place off the streets for youths to recreate and indulge in their increasingly popular sport. And she says she can’t think of a more appropriate place for it than the Rec Center.

“The Rec Center is going to be undergoing a major, master-planned renovation,” she noted. “Why not use that opportunity to make it more of a recreation center for everybody and not just toddlers, seniors and middle-age men? Not only would it bring the Rec Center to life economically, but it could do amazing things for our community.”

Gavit has called an open meeting to further explore the idea. It will be held at 6 p.m. April 15 at the Rec Center. She and representatives from the skate park industry will be on hand for discussion and to answer questions.

While the Rec Center location was the focus of the March 24 discussion, an alternate spot — the open space bike path near Nautilus Street and La Jolla Fire Station 13 — generated debate at the March 22 La Jolla Town Council Parks and Beaches Committee meeting. Several people who live near the path turned out to protest locating a skate park anywhere near designated open space.

However, many of the people who spoke out against a skateboard facility at the two meetings last week were quick to add that they didn’t object to the notion — just the location.

One such “opponent” is Alison Patton, an attorney and a mother with a skateboarding child. She said she got so riled when she heard the bike path in her neighborhood was being considered for such a park that she began attending public meetings. “I think the skate park is a wonderful idea,” she said. “But I can’t envision a location in the Village of La Jolla where it’s going to not be a problem for neighbors in terms of noise, traffic, etc.”

Patton said the issue is not about any one person or group, but rather about the community’s future.

“This is such a huge issue: If a skate park is put in, it will impact the community for decades,” she said. “People aren’t aware of the magnitude of this.”

Patton started an e-mail “hotline,” savethebikepath@gmail.com, to keep others informed about the proposal.

Those in favor of the plan can contact Gavit at skateparkmom@gmail.com.