The brand new Carmel Valley Skatepark couldn't have gotten a bigger thumbs-up of approval.
The skateboard god himself, Tony Hawk, took a spin at the soon-to-open park last week and declared it an awesome ride.
"The park looks great," Hawk said. "It has something for all skill levels and the street area is aesthetically authentic."
The skatepark on El Camino Real is gearing up for a grand opening ceremony Nov. 22, from 12 to 2 p.m. The event will feature a professional skateboard exhibition followed by a free-skeate until 4 p.m.
Fees and hours of operation of the park are up in the air, as proposed cuts to San Diego Parks and Recreation could lead to the elimination of supervision at city skateparks, according to Steve Pond, area director.
Should the City Council opt to approve the cuts, there would be no user fees. Fees at other city parks are set at $5 for a one-day pass and $30 for three-month pass.
The first ride
Hawk was on location Oct. 29 with fellow pro-skaters Tony Mag, Chris Miller and Christian Hosoi to test the "bowl," the pool at the skatepark, which is totally unique to San Diego.
"They got right in and flowed," said Dave McIntyre, a member of the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board and longtime skateboard enthusiast.
McIntyre, who started the first skateboarding industry association in 1975, has worked for G&S Surfboards, Santa Cruz/Indy and California Board Sports. He now works for Santa Monica Airlines Skateboards.
The first skatepark in California opened in Hawk's hometown of Carlsbad in 1975. The skateboarding boom over the next three years resulted in more than 400 skateparks being built in the state.
"The big problem a park could have was the construction," McIntyre said. "You could have a great design, but a contractor could blow it."
In the Carmel Valley Skatepark's situation, neither the design nor the construction was blown, McIntyre said. The key, he said, was picking local companies that could visit often and oversee the progress, fixing any kinks along the way.
Site Design Inc. of Solana Beach designed the park, with help from area skaters who participated in workshops to tell them exactly what they wanted.
With their input, the park was designed with a bowl and obstacles a skater would find in residential neighborhoods - features like steps, rails, gaps and a drainage ditch. Those features are the ones a lot of skaters like to ride in the "wild."
Unfortunately, the features are often found in places where "No Skateboarding" signs are prominently displayed.
3-D Construction, the company that built the Rancho Penasquitos Skatepark, was tapped to make the skaters' vision a reality.
"They did a great job, they were very professional," McIntyre said, praising the San Diego Parks and Recreation Department and city Project Manager Alexandra Corsi-Morgan for working so well together.
While park hours and fees have yet to be set, safety will come first at the park, with helmets and pads required. McIntyre used his skate company connections to help the city get a good price on a selection of helmets and pads to keep on site for skaters who may have forgotten them.