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The park was designed so beginners are safe, yet still challenged and stimulated. Courtesy image
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Skate park enters final design phase

SOLANA BEACH — Groundbreaking for the city’s long-planned, much-desired skate park could take place early next year.

Council and community members at the Sept. 27 meeting offered some final thoughts on a preferred concept created collaboratively by Van Dyke Landscape Architects and SITE Design Group based on feedback from workshops held earlier this year.

“It looks great,” said Mayor Mike Nichols, who had a handful of aesthetic and safety requests for the final design.

He was concerned skateboarders would be attracted to steps on the east end of the facility, adjacent to the proposed relocated half-court basketball area.

“We would hope not,” SITE Design Group’s Jaxon Statzell said. “We would hope we would offer enough stuff in here that you wouldn’t go and skate the basketball court.

“But sure, the nature of skateboarders is they want to ride on things that they’re not supposed to,” he added. “So we have talked about some ways to make it not skateable.”

Statzell said the two or three stairs were meant to serve as seating for the basketball court or for people who want to stand behind the railing and safely view the skaterboarders.

Nichols also said the 6,000-square-foot park wasn’t very colorful.

“Is there a way to make it lively and have a little bit more of a theme to it?” he asked. “To introduce some color and some fun items would help, I think, make it not seem like a boring place.

“It’s not going to be boring for those that are riding it, but people are going to watch,” Nichols added. “It would be interesting to jazz it up a bit.”

Based on those and a few other comments, Statzell said he plans to explore the feasibility of adding colored concrete and colored metal throughout the skate park.

“We are also going to revisit the entryway and donor wall design (and) see what, if anything, could be done for a potential spectator seating area,” he added.

A two-phase plan to upgrade La Colonia Community Center and Park approved in 2008 included a skate park. But the project stalled when the funding source was eliminated by Gov. Jerry Brown.

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

Skateboarders followed suit. SITE Design, which has designed skate parks worldwide, held two workshops that allowed skaters to design their ideal park. Based on their input, two options were created.

A hybrid of both was also created and ultimately chosen as the preferred option. It includes elements such as a bowl pocket, three-stair set with rails, China bank, stamped-brick quarter-pipe, pole jam and four-stair set with “Hubba” ledges.

Statzell said the linear, plaza-style nature allows for greater use by all-level skaters.

On any given day someone will be there for the first time and the thousandth time so it was designed so beginners are safe, yet returning skaters are still challenged and stimulated, he said.

The estimated cost is $821,000. To date, through events, donations, a grant from the Tony Hawk Foundation and city funds about $552,000 has been raised, including $1,000 presented earlier in the meeting from the Solana Beach Sunset 5K.

To make up the shortfall, the city applied for a $270,000 grant from the county’s neighborhood reinvestment program. The Board of Supervisors is expected to vote on that later this month or in early November.

The skate park will include a donor wall with names engraved on plaques resembling skateboards. They will be coated to prevent vandalism and graffiti.

Lights will face away from the skate area to discourage night use. Skateboarders can enter the facility through a gate off Stevens Avenue, which was designed to discourage them from cutting through landscaping or the park.

Based on a recommendation from resident Steve Ostrow, Nichols asked the city engineer to look into changing the existing half-court basketball area to a small full court.

“Solana Beach would stand out,” Ostrow said. “It would be so upscale. … It’s unique.”

“I think this full-court basketball thing sounds awesome,” Nichols said. “I think it’s worth exploring. I think it’s a neat idea.

“Just do us a favor and try to see if it can work,” he said to the city engineer. “In my brain it seems like a pretty cool thing. It urbanizes the area.”

Once the final design is complete, plans will be presented to council members for approval and then go out for construction bids.