OCEANSIDE — The city is accepting renaming applications for several city parks and recreation facilities, including two skate parks and the almost completed El Corazon Aquatic Center.
Council approved staff’s recommendation at the April 21 City Council meeting to include Alex Road Skate Park and the aquatic center as two facilities to be considered for renaming this year.
Alex Road Skate Park, better known as Prince Park by those who frequently use it, was first completed in 2013. Alex Road, where the park is located, is named after Alex Deutsch, who founded Deutsch Company, one of Oceanside’s first manufacturing plants. But the name Alex Road Skate Park has no significance other than being the park’s project name during planning and construction.
The park’s skate community came up with the name Prince Park in honor of Michael “Prince” Johnson, a professional Oceanside skateboarder who died about a month before the park opened. Several of Johnson’s friends and peers have described him as an inspiration for young skateboarders to stay away from gangs, violence and drugs.
The Prince Park skateboard community has been looking forward to an official renaming of the park for quite some time.
According to staff, the city first received a request to change the park’s name to Prince Park in 2017 but the formal process described in the council policy dictating the park renaming process was not carried out. A second renaming application for the park in September 2020 spurred renewed interest in the name change.
Josh Carson, a close friend of Johnson, submitted the renaming application last year.
“No one’s ever called it Alex Road that I know,” Carson previously told The Coast News.
Councilmember Chris Rodriguez, who has been working with the skate park community and advocating for facility improvements over the last six months, also pushed for the name change during the council meeting.
“Alex Road Skate Park is Prince Park to them,” he said. “They will always call it that, they know it as that.”
A new renaming application for the skate park will need to be submitted according to Parks and Recreation Division Manager Mark Olson. The city plans to send out an announcement this week.
The city also received several emails from residents in January 2021 asking the city to consider naming the almost completed El Corazon Aquatic Center after the late Bill Wagner, who served as the Oceanside High School swimming and basketball coach.
Additionally, Mayor Esther Sanchez asked that the city accept renaming applications for Martin Luther King Jr. Skate Park. She said the skate community at that park has expressed interest in naming the park after Shane Hidalgo, another Oceanside professional skateboarder, who died in 2012.
“He still has a huge influence in the skateboard community there,” Sanchez said, noting a recent memorial for Hidalgo was held at the skate park a few weeks ago.
Councilmember Peter Weiss asked that one of the parks or facilities that doesn’t have an official name be changed to honor former Mayor Jim Wood, one of Oceanside’s longest-serving mayors.
Olson said his staff would look into which parks don’t have names and consider them for renaming to honor Wood.
Renaming applications must be turned into the city by June 1.
Applications will be referred to the Parks and Recreation Commission with staff recommendations in September. The commission will hold a public hearing on the renaming options and then send its recommendations to City Council, which will make the final decision.
Should those facilities be accepted for renaming, new monument signs with the new names, costing approximately $15,000 each, must be installed at the facilities.