Now that the city has kicked off a fundraising campaign for a skate park, the Solana Beach City Council plans to soon discuss how to fund the project.
“This has been on our work plan for a number of years,” Councilwoman Lesa Heebner said at the Oct. 12 meeting. “We’re looking for a way to make this happen. There’s no question.”
The skate part was first proposed as part of the planned renovations of the 3.79-acre La Colonia Park and Community Center. Van Dyke Landscape Architects produced a master plan and construction documents for the park and community center several years ago.
Initially, the council intended to use funds from the city’s redevelopment agency to renovate the park and community center, including constructing the skate park, but Gov. Jerry Brown abolished redevelopment agencies in 2011.
“We would have issued bonds, and through those bonds, paid for the park,” Mayor David Zito explained in an interview. “Those bonds would have been paid back through tax increments that we would have received through the redevelopment agency. When the economy tanked in 2008, one of the first things Gov. Brown did was get rid of all the redevelopment agencies, so that basically eliminated the funding.”
With support from the community, the city moved forward with the construction of the Veterans Honor Courtyard at La Colonia Park, which was also first proposed as part of the planned renovations of the park and community center.
The city received a $100,000 grant from San Diego County made possible by Supervisor Dave Roberts, a former member of the Solana Beach council. Solana Beach matched that with its own $100,000 grant. Spearheaded by former Mayor Tere Renteria, most of the rest of the money was raised through donor tile sales.
The Veterans Honor Courtyard was dedicated in a ceremony last Memorial Day.
“We’ve started to make progress on the plan by doing parts of it,” Zito said.
The city launched a fundraising campaign for the skateboarding section of the approved master plan with “Skateboard Day at La Colonia Park” on Sunday, Oct. 9 at the park. The campaign began with a $5,000 skateboard park grant from the Tony Hawk Foundation back in 2010.
“Great event,” Councilman Mike Nichols said at the council meeting. “I think about every single skater I spoke to was from Solana Beach, so it was pretty well attended by local skaters, which was awesome.”
Several local skateboarders thanked the council for originally approving the plan and encouraged them to move forward with the project.
“On behalf of all the skateboarders in Solana Beach, I would like to thank you for approving the plan for putting a skate park in La Colonia,” said skateboarder Jake Hernandez, one of five local youth who spoke before the council in support of the skate park. “We just want that skate park to be built there so we can stay off the streets and have somewhere to go after school and not stay inside and stare at a TV screen all day.”
Sven Haynie, father of two of the boys, also spoke in favor of the project.
“I would like to support the effort to develop and build a skate park here,” said Haynie, a 15-year Solana Beach resident. “I hear other families strongly supporting this.”
The master plan, Zito said, includes a detailed design of the skate park, which would be located at the northwest corner of the park. It would utilize some of the grassy area, but the city would also maintain a full-size soccer field, while the basketball court would be moved adjacent to the skate park.
“The skate park includes some very traditional elements — bowls, ramps, rails,” Zito said. “It’s not fairly big. It’s significantly smaller than the one that was built in Encinitas, but of course, it’s a significantly smaller park area.”
The council plans to soon discuss the city’s budget surplus, which could help support the project.
At a previous council meeting, Zito explained the council talked about creating a dedicated fund for budget surpluses or planned contributions, in an effort to fund park improvements.
“We can go after grant money as well, but usually it’s a lot easier to get that type of grant money if you have some matching funds,” Zito said.
Supporters are already working with the Coastal Community Foundation to help raise funds for the skate park. For more information or to make a donation, visit https://coastalfoundation.org/programs/solana-beach-skatepark-fund.
“Solana Beach has a huge population of skaters, and if you don’t provide a place for them to skate, they will skate on things that you don’t want them to,” Zito said. “You end up having to construct what I would call ugly counter-measures to protect the parts of infrastructure that you don’t want to be used by skating.
“From that perspective, it’s very compelling to provide a skate park somewhere in order to provide for that outlet. It also turns into a great gathering place for kids to hang out in a safe environment and do something fun outdoors.”