Skate facility called ‘best in Southern California’

Skatepark rolls toward completion

Come Thanksgiving, local skaters are going to have plenty to be thankful for. Early to late November is the projected opening date for the long anticipated Carmel Valley Skatepark on El Camino Real.

The skatepark, which had a groundbreaking in April, is about 70 percent done, with most of the plaza street features completed. In two weeks, it’s estimated that it could be 85 percent complete.

Perhaps no one is more pleased at the speed at which the park is rolling forward than Mark Takahashi. The local skateboarder and attorney has been an advocate for the park for years.

“I’ve been really happy with the progress of the construction phase of the skatepark because it has moved really quickly since groundbreaking,” said Takahashi. “To be honest, I had some concerns about the skatepark building experience of the company on the job but so far it seems like they are doing a very good job.”

Concerns about the building company have been shared by a handful of local skaters, mostly because it is so important for the life of a skatepark for it to be done right from the very beginning.

The company, 3D Construction, has been under the close supervision of Site Design Group, the world-renowned design firm behind the project. Housed in Solana Beach, the group employs many former pro-skateboarders on their team so they know what they are looking for.

One such designer is former skateboarder Kanten Russell, who has spent much time overlooking the park in progress. He’s giving the park a thumbs-up and says those who have been invited to the site for previews are as well.

“Everyone who’s come through has voiced their approval of the park,” Russell said.

Park has skaters pumped

The $2 million, 15,000-square-foot park is looking every bit as good as how area skaters envisioned it, back in planning workshops in the early months of 2007. Back then, skaters put pen to paper to draw quarter pipes, steps, brick banks and ledges - elements that have been carefully carved into the landscape at the park. As of last Thursday, marble slabs rested at the bottom of one of the stair sets, ready to be placed.

The most exciting feature is the bowl, the clover shaped pool, looking deep and irresistible to future riders.

“The general consensus is that the bowl is going to be the best in Southern California,” Russell said.

Lights are key element

Currently, the bowl is fully prepped for pouring, with sprayed concrete work expected this week. That the pouring of the bowl is done right is extremely important to those who intend to ride it.

“This will be the most challenging thing to get right,” said Takahashi. “Most of the skateboarders I know are crossing their fingers and hoping that it will be poured perfectly and without any kinks, flaws or inconsistencies in the skateboarding surface.”

Perhaps even better than the bowl is another feature at the park: The lights.

Since the very beginnings of the project, Takahashi said that they have been asking for a lighted facility and he’s very pleased that it will become a reality.

“The lights will allow older skateboarders to enjoy the facility after working hours,” Takahashi said. “This is a big deal in San Diego because there are no lit skateboarding facilities in the city.”

Takahashi said under the lights, people will be able to see how great a use of land the skatepark really will be for this community.

As a whole, Carmel Valley is a very active skateboarding community and the park will be an important resource for boarders as it gives them a safe and legal place to ride. This fact was cemented more than ever by a skateboarding accident last week on Ashley Falls Drive, near Carmel Knolls Drive. Off hours, Ashley Falls School is a popular skate site with its multiple ledges and an enticing set of stairs. The accident, however, occurred in the street, when an 18-year-old rider hit a traveling car and was sent to the hospital with a broken clavicle and other injuries.

As more kids step onto skateboards, giving them appropriate places to ride can only be a good idea, Takahashi said.

“Ideally, after the city sees how many people, young and old use the Carmel Valley Skatepark, it will move forward with a more comprehensive skatepark plan that involves small neighborhood skate spots and obstacles,” said Takahashi.

Takahashi notes that the city of Oceanside is already rolling in that direction, combining the smaller neighborhood spots with larger community parks and an even bigger regional park.

“It’s time for other cities to follow suit and recognize that skateboarding is here to stay,” said Takahashi.