Skate park faces obstacles

Convincing La Jollans young and old that a skate park would benefit the community — and that the recreation center would be the appropriate place for it — is only the first hurdle proponents must clear.

There will be others, among them finding financial support for such a large-scale undertaking, as well as securing the technical expertise to carry it off.

The originator of the idea, longtime La Jollan Marnie Gavit, said she’s got the backers to launch the project. But she added that a communitywide fundraising drive will ultimately be necessary, not only to secure the estimated $500,000-plus needed to construct the park, but also to fully engage the community in the effort.

One idea Gavit advanced for the skate park proposal at two La Jolla advisory groups last week was to partner with the Tony Hawk Foundation, a national grant-giving organization focused on developing free, quality skate parks in low-income areas serving disadvantaged youths.

“Perhaps we could partner with a lower-income community if we’re interested (in building a park),” suggested Mary Coakley, a member of both advisory groups approached with the proposal.

Miki Vuckovich, executive director of Hawk’s foundation, said recently that he was receptive to the idea of teaming with a La Jolla group to explore creating a skate park in the Jewel. He noted that skateboard users are one of the most underserved recreational groups in the country, something his organization is working to counter.

“Since 2002, Tony Hawk has awarded over $3 million in grants specifically for construction of free public skate parks,” he said. “There are only 3,000 skate parks throughout the country and 13 million skateboarders.”

Unlike other athletic facilities, skate parks have no regulation sizes, shapes or designs. “They’re more akin to golf courses that are very unique and designed specifically to the needs of that community,” Vuckovich said.

Site Design Group Inc. of Solana Beach designs skate parks. Firm principal Brian Moore talked about the process involved in building one for a given community.

“We’ve done skate parks as small as 3,000 square feet up to 62,000 square feet,” he said. “Typically, design workshops are held with the community to get their input.”

Moore said a great many factors are considered in skate park planning — everything from what obstacles are desired in the park to the location of water fountains, sidewalks, bleachers and shade structures.

“Park design takes three to six months, depending on the size,” Moore said. “Construction takes six to 12 months.”

Vuckovich is expected to attend a presentation on skate parks at the next meeting of La Jolla Parks & Rec. Inc., at 5 p.m. Feb. 24 in Room 1 of La Jolla Rec Center.