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Ramping up efforts for La Jolla Skate Park

LJ skate park ideas presented at meeting

A La Jolla mother and three representatives from the skate park industry aired their ideas for a La Jolla skate park at the La Jolla Parks & Recreation Inc. board meeting last week.

Without launching an outright lobbying campaign, they made it clear that they will make every effort to bring a skate park to the community to serve the unmet recreational needs of area youths. The idea was first proposed by Marnie Gavit, who took a seat as a new board member at the Feb. 24 meeting.

As she introduced the presenters, she made it clear that before any location is identified, much work was needed, including getting young skaters involved in the process.

Miki Vuckovich of the Tony Hawk Foundation, a nonprofit promoting skate park creation, told the group, “If you don’t have a (community) skate park — you are a skate park.”

There were a handful of supporters in attendance as well as a design team that works with the world-renowned skater’s foundation.

Brian Moore, principal of Site Design Group Inc. of Solana Beach, which designs skate parks, showed examples of park designs on poster boards.

“They don’t have to be rectangles or squares and come in sizes from 3,000 up to 50,000 feet and are designed for all age groups and skill levels,” he said, noting that modern skate parks are tailored to individual communities and can be amenities.

He added that creating a skate park first involves gathering community input from skaters and local residents as to what they want.

“These parks can have fencing, lighting, water fountains, landscaping and shade, bathrooms, etc.,” he said. “It’s not just a gray concrete shell.”

The information-only agenda item prompted questions from Rec Council board members and the public about design ideas and impact on the community.

At least one resident who lives near the rec center questioned the noise levels that a skate park would create, suggesting that the surrounding area, which includes churches and the Museum of Contemporary Art, might be too dense to be feasible for creating a noisy, crowded youth recreational facility.

Vuckovich replied that there are proven design techniques to counteract skate park noise and that a park could also be secured with fencing. He also acknowledged that it was important to study options before deciding on a site.

Board member Pat Miller voiced an opinion supported by several of her colleagues:

“Opening up a skate park in La Jolla is one issue, and opening up a skate park at the rec center is an entirely different issue.”

The center’s grounds, which are in the preliminary stages of a redesign, currently are home to a playground, basketball courts, tennis courts and a field where soccer and baseball are played. There’s also the center itself, which houses a small gym and meeting rooms that host programs for youngsters and adults and community meetings.

Board member Mary Coakley said: “When they first came to me with the idea of a skate park, I was shocked. But we’re doing a new (master) plan for the park, and I think we need to embrace a larger, broader cross-section of the community.”

Melinda Merryweather, another member who joined the board last week, agreed, saying, “The rec center shouldn’t be for just toddlers and old people.”

Merryweather asked for a room vote on how many favored a skate park, but Vice President Susan Oliver, subbing for President Chip Rome, tabled that motion. “There’s not a proposal or enough definition for one,” Oliver said.