The Coast News Group
Plans are moving forward to build a skate park at La Colonia Park after an Oct. 9 event highlighted the need for such a facility. Courtesy photo
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Skate park coming to Solana Beach

SOLANA BEACH — If all goes as planned Solana Beach could be home to the area’s next skateboarding park.

Council members at the Oct. 26 meeting unanimously agreed to allocate $300,000 from a surplus fund to move forward with that portion of a long-planned improvement project at La Colonia Park.

The need for such a facility was highlighted during an Oct. 9 onsite Skate for the Day event.

“As soon as the skaters in the neighborhood were aware of the event they started congregating and waiting for the setup of the skating area,” resident Lenore Dale wrote in an email to the city. “They couldn’t wait to skate safely and legally in Solana Beach.

“I loved seeing the skaters come together naturally because of their common interest,” she added. “Since we know it is going to happen, let’s get it done now.”

Dale said when her children were growing up they had no place close to skate and now her grandchildren are experiencing the same difficulty.

That sentiment was echoed by four youngsters who spoke at the Oct. 12 council meeting a few days after the event.

“On behalf of all the skateboarders in Solana Beach I would like to thank you for approving the plan for putting a skate park in La Colonia,” Jake Hernandez said. “We are always trying to skate there because we don’t have anywhere else to go besides Carmel Valley or Encinitas.

“We just want that skate park to be built there so that we can stay off the streets and have somewhere to go after school and not stay inside and stare at a TV screen all day,” he added. “We can actually go outside and do something.”

“It’d be really helpful to have a short trip to the closest, nearest skate park,” John Gonzales said. “It would be super good and we’re super grateful about all the plans.”

“I’ve been going down to La Colonia my whole life with my little brother and we’ve always wanted a skate park there,” Ben Haney said. “It’d be a great contribution to the community.”

“All my friends are looking forward to the new skate park and we really hope it gets to happen and we would go down there a lot,” his younger brother Donovan added.

In 2007, city officials began looking at ways to upgrade the Valley Avenue park and community center, which was built in the late 1970s.

Plans for a two-phase implementation were approved in 2008. The total estimated cost in 2010 was $4.6 million. Most of the money was to come from the city’s redevelopment agency, but Gov. Jerry Brown abolished those agencies in 2011 so the plans have been on hold since.

A few years ago a group of residents successfully lobbied the city to complete another planned element of the improvements — an honor courtyard for veterans that was revealed earlier this year — separately from the major project.

Now skateboarders are doing the same. The skate park was included in phase one of the upgrade plans.

The estimated cost for that portion in 2010 was $250,000. Done independently, minor changes would have to be made which, combined with today’s costs, put the updated price tag at about $500,000.

Additional funding has been provided by other organizations, including $5,000 from the Tony Hawk Foundation on behalf of the legendary local professional skateboarder.

The estimated 4,000 skate parks in the nation “have shown to be an effective deterrent to other less desirable activities while supporting healthy and habitual athletic recreation,” Alec Beck, the foundation’s programs director, wrote in a letter of support to the city.

“An investment in public recreation for young people helps establish active lifestyles early, when it is most important, and can lead to a lifetime of positive health impacts,” he added. “The outpouring of support at the recent skatepark event at La Colonia Park demonstrated not only a clear service need, but community advocacy in action as well,” he added.

The Surfing Madonna Beach Run has also pledged to donate $20,000. Another $1,000 was received from the Solana Beach Sunset 5K. The Oct. 9 event raised about $2,200 and $14,000 of unused redevelopment agency funding is available.

Fundraising will continue to make up the $158,000 shortfall.

Skateboarding is not currently allowed on any public property in Solana Beach.

“I think this is something great that we can do,” Councilwoman Lesa Heebner said.

“The kids need a place to go,” Councilwoman Ginger Marshall added.

The community center will also be upgraded, but at no cost to the city, thanks to work and materials being donated by McCarthy Building Companies, the contractor rebuilding nearby Earl Warren Middle School, and Studio E Architects.

The building is used for afterschool classes, dance classes, meetings and other activities, including MiraCosta College adult education classes.

Storage areas will be removed and the room will be expanded to accommodate a computer lab and classroom. The work will not interfere with future renovation plans.