The long-awaited Pacific Highlands Ranch Community Park is set to open in early fall but some kids just can’t wait. Skateboarders have been slipping into the park under construction on Village Center Loop Road near Canyon Crest Academy through a fence near the Airoso development next-door.
Vlad Kroutik, who lives in the Airoso development, has a bird’s eye view of the park from his home and said the groups of skateboarders have taken to riding the park’s rolling concrete bike pump track. He said the word has definitely spread as he estimated 50 skaters were out there over one weekend in February. He said the builders attempted to stop the activity by placing containers across the track— but Kroutik said a group of 20-plus kids made quick work of the temporary blockades.
One of his main concerns, outside of repairing the damage to his community’s fence, is for the safety of the unsupervised riders on a construction site.
According to Allen Kashani, director of project management for Pardee Homes, as a result of the recent trespassing, security will be on site during non-working hours to ensure kids don’t continue to try to bike and skate on the bicycle pump track while the park is still under construction.
According to Tim Graham, supervising public information officer for the city’s park and recreation department, the security guard post has been moved to the track area to make the public more aware of a security presence. Additionally the San Diego Police Department has been notified in an effort to request increased patrols around the site.
The contractor is asking for the community’s help in ensuring kids refrain from using the features until the park is open.
Keeping kids off the construction site is one thing, but Kroutik said there may be a larger problem in play, as evidenced by skateboarders flocking to the track, the city’s first bike pump track.
“The track was designed as a BMX track but there is nothing in place to enforce that. So what they’ve built is a skateboard park, ” Kroutik said.“The way I look at it, the city dropped the ball….they built the wrong thing. They didn’t build what the community was promised and agreed to. It was clear that it was to be a BMX track.”
As the park design committee discussed the pump track in 2015, the city had expressed concerns about the ability to maintain a dirt track. At the time, committee member Chris Powell, a former professional BMX rider, said the track didn’t have to be dirt—the rolling obstacles and jumps could be made of concrete or soiltac (a polymer that controls dust and erosion) could be placed on the dirt to prevent issues that would necessitate having to rebuild.
The plans are for the track to remain concrete.
The park does include a separate skate plaza near the 17,000-square-foot recreation center.
Kroutik wanted to know if the pump track will be fenced, how certain uses will be prevented, if helmets will be required and how any of the rules be enforced. He has concerns about the city’s ability to manage the pump track once it is open and prevent teens from being seriously injured.
“I’m all for having cool things for the kids to do but it has to be thought through. You would not have built a pool without lifeguards,” Kroutik said. “It’s better to think about these things now before something bad happens.”
According to Graham, the pump track will not be directly supervised and will operate in a manner comparable to the city’s skate parks and plazas in which patrons use the facilities at their own risk.
“This is the first pump track in our system and we are still researching and developing specific operational policies for it,” Graham said. “That said, there are plans to post signage related to helmet use at the pump track as well as posting a list of rules and regulations that we post at city skateboarding facilities.”
It will also be posted at the track that it is meant for cyclists and users will be required to self-govern, Graham said.
In addition to the pump track and city’s first public parkour area, Pacific Highlands Ranch Community Park will also feature a 5-acre lit turf field that can accommodate a variety of sports, outdoor basketball courts, a traditional children’s playground and a discovery area, and dog parks for both large and small dogs.