SOLANA BEACH — “This is pretty sick,” said Alec Beck with the Tony Hawk Foundation, as over four dozen skaters of all ages grabbed their boards to break in Solana Beach’s brand new La Colonia skate park.
Lingo and all, few words could have better captured the feeling in the air at the park’s grand opening on April 27.
Parents watched as their young kids cautiously navigated the park’s various dips and slopes, while local professional skaters whizzed past to negotiate a rail or “Hubba” ledge.
In addition to the skate park, the city also unveiled a small basketball court and free-standing nanogrid — called EnergiPlant — providing WiFi and ports for phone-charging.
The park’s design takes the look of the ocean, with a donor wall in the shape of a wave revealing the names of individuals and businesses that contributed $500 or more to the project.
The project’s construction has quickly unfolded over last 10 months, a chain link fence around the perimeter giving away sneak peaks of the design to come. But efforts to make the skate park a reality started over a decade ago.
In 2007, the city came up with a Master Plan for the whole of La Colonia Park, envisioning elements such as the skate park, an expanded tot lot and a courtyard honoring veterans — which was completed in 2016.
But after the city’s anticipated funding source was shut down at the state level, the city had to approach the Master Plan “piecemeal,” said former Councilwoman Lesa Heebner, who was on the council during much of the project’s timeline.
The skate park remained a city priority, with residents hoping a it would give area kids “something positive to occupy their time,” Heebner told The Coast News.
In 2016, the Parks and Recreation Commission started looking ways to chip away at the Master Plan. Fueled by the momentum and enthusiasm of the local skating community, the commission opted to focus on “what resonated,” Commissioner Linda Swindell said.
And what resonated was the skate park.
The approximately $1.1 million project was largely paid for out of the city’s Capital Improvement Program Fund, but it was also able to garner various financial support from local entities and community members.
A $5,000 donation from the Tony Hawk Foundation “kicked off” the project, said Mayor Dave Zito during the park’s grand opening.
From there, the city received a $100,000 Neighborhood Reinvestment Program grant from the county, as well as donations from the Surfing Madonna Oceans Project, Solana Beach Civic and Historical Society and the Coastal Communities Foundation.
The Parks and Recreation Commission raised money through fundraisers at Culture Brewing, and the Fire Department hosted a pancake breakfast.
As the city secured funding for the skate park, the project’s consulting architects — Van Dyke Landscape Architects — gathered input from local skaters and community members to come up with a design.
The final product was constructed by California Skateparks.
And the feedback so far?
“It’s been great,” Swindell said. “The consensus is: people think it’s fun, it’s well-designed for the space.”
Local resident Dan Soderberg was one of a couple hundred residents and family members watching from the park’s grassy area during the grand opening, as his young son tried out the skate park.
Soderberg, who also skates, said he looks forward to having a place where he can do something fun with his kids.
“I think it was well-needed,” he said.
Prior to the skate park, skateboarding was not allowed on any public property in the city.
Zito, who cut the opening ribbon as a large group of eager young skaters looked on, said he’s “very happy” about the progress being made to the park.
“While I admit these facilities will not be used by everybody, I think if you look at the park as a whole, it’s turning into a very wonderful location for our entire community and the entire neighborhood to come and gather,” he said.