OCEANSIDE — After years of lobbying to formally change a local skatepark’s name after his fallen friend, Oceanside resident Joshua Carson finally achieved his goal.
Carson had submitted several applications to the city over the years requesting to officially change the name of Alex Road Skate Park in honor of his fallen friend, Michael “Prince” Johnson.
But Carson’s most recent attempt was a success after the Oceanside City Council approved the renaming of three municipal parks and facilities during its Oct. 20 meeting, including the popular skatepark (now Prince Memorial Skate Park) and the city’s new aquatic center.
Carson said his friend Prince, who was an accomplished skateboarder and role model for kids from the community, was looking forward to skating at the park when it was first built back in 2013. Prince died just months before the park was finished.
Since then, Carson and others have tried to carry on their friend’s legacy. Many of the park’s regulars have grown close to one another and try to look out for each other. The park also provides an outlet for kids in the community to keep them out of trouble.
“I’m bummed (Prince) couldn’t ride it but I guarantee his spirit is there,” Carson said. “It’s a peaceful place, mellow, and everyone gets along unless you’re doing something ridiculous.”
El Corazon Aquatic Center was formally renamed the William A. Wagner Aquatic Center after a beloved swim coach. Wagner taught swimming lessons to Oceanside residents for over 30 years and launched Oceanside High School’s swim team, leading the Pirates to multiple league and state championships.
Rancho Del Oro Park will be renamed Jim Wood Park at Rancho Del Oro after former Oceanside Mayor Jim Wood. Wood was a police officer for 31 years who later served as mayor from 2004 to 2018.
Martin Luther King Jr. Skate Park was also set to be renamed after another local skateboarder, Shane Hidalgo, 24, who died in 2012. Similar to Prince, Hidalgo also spent time developing relationships with the youth and serving as a community role model.
But prior to final approval, applicant Larry Hidalgo, Shane’s father, withdrew his application to rename the park after his son. The Coast News reached out to Hidalgo but has not received a response.
The city will need to install new signage at each of the renamed parks. Parks and Recreation Manager Mark Olson said the new signs will cost about $8,000 each and will take about two to three months to complete. Olson also said there would likely be a ceremony for the parks following the installation of the new signs.