A handful of rusty rails, ramps with holes and peeling wood are scattered across a small fenced-off area of Santa Rosa Park where local skateboarders go to practice their kick-flips and smith grinds.
San Luis Obispo Parks and Recreation is looking to change this. The organization is raising money to replace the current Santa Rosa Skate Park with a new cement park by offering “I (Heart) SLO Skate Park” shirts, a “Buy a brick, build a dream” campaign and placing coin jars at local skate shops.
“The new skate park is not made only for skateboarders,” Parks and Recreation Recreational Manager Shannon Bates said. “There will be an auditorium for concerts and a large street side walk way that would be perfect for a famers market type of situation.”
The current skate park located at Santa Rosa Park opened in 1994 and consisted of wood ramps built by volunteers. Over time, these ramps deteriorated and became unsafe to skate.
Wanting a safer place to skate, the local skateboarding community proposed the city redesign and build a new skate park, Bates said. In 2007, the plan was adopted as a major city goal.
In 2009, the San Luis Obispo City Council approved the skate park master plan and agreed to make proposed repairs on the current equipment, such as resurfacing ramps, according to court documents.
“Every year, there is a community forum where people can come give their opinion where the budget should be spent,” Bates said. “The skate community organized themselves, came out in numbers and told city council ‘We want a skate park.’ It was quite amazing.”
Though there was demand for the park, there was not enough funding. The city had tentatively committed $1 million of the $2.5 million needed to construct the new park, Bates said. The Tony Hawk Foundation, which helps communities build public skateboard parks in low-income areas, awarded a $50,000 grant to the city for the skate park. That left $1,450,000 to be raised by supporters.
Fundraising efforts have been in full effect for more than five years now, but they are still short of their long-term goal, Bates said. To try and battle this shortfall, Bates and her staff have set up coin jars at local skate shops for patrons to donate money toward the skate park fund. People can also purchase a personalized brick that will be placed in the park upon construction.
The “Buy a brick, build a dream” campaign requires a $125 donation for a personalized brick that will be set in the park’s entrance, Bates said.
These fundraising efforts are slowly gathering money for the skate park fund, but the lack of action and marketing have left the skate park in the back of many residents’ minds.
“The skate park is weak,” local skateboarder Alex Lynch said. “I think an upgrade is needed, for sure. (I) didn’t even know they were still trying to build a new park.”
Like Lynch, many skateboarders are weary if the new park will ever be built, but temporary ramps and rails will be brought in this weekend to host the Central Coast Monster Skate Series.
Central Coast Monster Skate Series allows skateboarders to compete in one of seven different age groups; amateurs, women and sponsored skaters are welcome to enter, said Amy Voorhies, recreation specialist at San Luis Obispo Parks and Recreation Department. Prizes are given to the top three in each category.
Though the Monster Skate Park Series is a non-profit, not run by San Luis Obispo Parks and Recreation, Bates and Voorhies said they hope the Monster Skate Park Series will bring more people out to the park and show the community how a skate park can be beneficial to San Luis Obispo.
“We are carting in a bunch of rails, ramps, boxes and some kicker ramps,” Voorhies said. “We want people to come out, sit and relax and watch some skateboarding.”