The Coast News Group
Members of the Vista City Council, city officials and Jack Flaherty, second from right, president of the skate park coalition, take part in a ceremonial groundbreaking for one of the city’s new skate parks. Two skate parks will be constructed on N. Santa Fe Avenue with an opening expected for summer 2017. Photo by Tony Cagala
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Vista doubles up efforts, breaks ground on two new skate parks

VISTA — Eight years and several ceremonial shovels full of dirt scattered later and the city of Vista is that much closer to having not one, but two new skate parks.

On Tuesday, members of the City Council, along with Jack Flaherty and others took part in a ceremonial groundbreaking at the site of one of the new parks slated to open in the summer of 2017.

Flaherty, president of the Skate Park Coalition, was instrumental in keeping the project in the forefront of the council’s attention.

“I’m very pleased,” Flaherty said looking over the future park’s site. “It’s actually a lot better than I could’ve ever hoped for.”

After the city’s old skate park was torn down to accommodate the construction of the new Civic Center, Flaherty made a promise to the kids that skated there every day that he would find a solution.

Initially, the idea was to build one large skate park, but after having a tough time finding an ideal locale to suit the park, the city came up with the idea to make two smaller ones.

The two parks now will feature a bowl on the site at 400 N. Santa Fe Ave., and a street course just a block up at 510 N. Santa Fe Ave., which will be connected by a transformed alleyway with a skateable surface and smaller obstacles for skaters to use.

The parks cost about $900,000 each, with the city putting up the $2 million to complete the projects.

Each site was already owned by the city, which was one of the biggest factors for selecting them, explained John Conley, community development director.

“Based on the input we got at the community forums, there wasn’t a lot of opposition in putting them here,” he said.

“We looked at dozens of properties throughout the city over the years,” Conley added.

The site where the bowl skate park will be has sat vacant for 20 years, according to Skip Hammann, project manager.

In 1994, the site used to house an assembly hall and before that there was a warehouse on the property.

Grindline, a Seattle-based skate park design and construction company, came up with the designs for the two parks based in part on input from the community and local skaters.

“This is a great example of how the city is working together, collaborating with residents and community groups to create a more active and better community for everyone,” said Mayor Judy Ritter.

Ritter said that over the last 18 months, the city has invested $8 million into parks, including the two skate parks.

“That’s our council’s commitment to enhancing our community’s parks and recreation opportunities,” she said.

For Amanda Rigby, a parks and recreation department commissioner when the old park was torn down and who is now the city’s deputy mayor, she said it’s been a long time coming for a new skate park.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve had a skate park or some place official for the kids to go for their skateboarding,” Rigby said.

As for Flaherty, the longtime Vista resident and skateboarder said the skate culture in Vista is really strong.

“Modern street skating was basically born in Vista,” he said. “This is basically the Dog Town of the ‘80s….there’s a really strong skate history in Vista.”

Skate park hours haven’t yet been established, though there will be night lighting installed.

Another feature will include a web cam that will stream live on the city’s website and the city will be adding a traffic signal at the intersection to allow for safe crossing to get to the parks.

The park will be locked during times of non-operation.