By Karen Billing
The Carmel Valley Skatepark recently celebrated a sick ride — the five-year anniversary of the park being open in Carmel Valley.
On a recent Saturday the facility on El Camino Real grinded to life at 10 a.m. with skaters of all ages on the park’s various features, from its banks and steps to the unique deep bowl.
Dad David Nelson waited in his car, keeping watch on the young skateboarders he’d ferried to the park, his son and his friends.
“The kids love it, I think it’s a really good community, the kids are really friendly and considerate to each other,” Nelson said. “They definitely feel safe and welcome here even though they’re younger.”
Decked out in the required helmets, the kids practiced tricks and took photos as teenagers skated on other obstacles and adult skaters worked inside the bowl.
“I’ve been coming here for a year and every time it keeps getting better and better,” said Jonathan Polarek, a sixth grader at Torrey Hills Elementary School. “My favorite feature is all the drop-ins, it’s really fun to get wind in your face while you’re going super fast down hill.”
Fifth grader Andy Nelson said the first thing he does is go over to the park’s ramps and grinds the rails. He said he feels that the place is safe and kept clean.
“The main reason there’s no graffiti is because of the police station next door, that might have a lot to do with it,” Andy Nelson said.
It’s hard to imagine that the facility that buzzes with activity in the afternoons and early evenings under the lights could be the visitor center the land was originally tapped for. In 2007, the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board heard from skatepark enthusiasts that the board should use its Facilities Benefit Assessment funds to build a park instead; launching a series of public workshops where local skaters designed the park they wanted with Site Design Group of Solana Beach.
The 13,500-square-foot facility park opened on Nov. 22, 2008.
A big advocate for the park throughout the process was Carmel Valley skater Mark Takahashi.
“I drive by the skatepark almost every day, and I see that it gets a lot of use,” Takahashi said. “It really makes me happy to see kids and adults enjoying the skatepark on a daily basis. I’m proud of the work and devotion that all of the early supporters gave so many years ago.”
The park has also played host to skateboarding contests — in March it was a stop on the Transworld Skateboarding’s Come Up Tour and in August was the site for the Skateboarder Magazine’s Sun Diego Am Slam.
“We love it, we wish there were more,” said adult skater Mark, who with his friend Steve skateboarded inside the bowl. The two had picked up boards again after about a 30-year layoff. “This is the only place I go.”
Mark likes the depth of the bowl, which ranges from 6 to 11 feet, one of the deepest in San Diego. Even more than the bowl, he said he likes that there’s a lot at the park for all levels of skateboarders from beginners on up.
A fellow CV Skatepark enthusiast, young skater Chris Novascone, agreed, giving a strong endorsement.
“It’s the best park ever,” Chris said.