Repairs to keep skate park from cracking up
August 7, 2008
Deeply rooted within skateboarding culture is a do-it-yourself ethos.
From sweeping out a paved roadside drainage ditch so it can be skated on to building a backyard mini-ramp, where there is a will, there is a skate for many participants of the sport.
This element of skateboarding was on display at the South Shore last weekend as volunteers began a facelift of the 12-year-old skate park at Bijou Community Park.
The design of the skate park at Bijou will stay largely the same, but the asphalt sections of the park will be replaced with concrete.
“Nothing is really changing on the park,” said volunteer and skateboarder Airick Valenzuela. “There’ll be a couple new features, but nothing major.”
The concrete will provide a smoother, more reliable surface – less prone to the large cracks that permeated some of the asphalt sections of the park.
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“I’m just excited, because every year they fill in the cracks, and it cracks again,” said South Shore skateboarder Jess Foster, surveying the park, which was largely dirt on Tuesday. “It’s good to get some good surface in here.”
In addition to making the skate park more fun to ride, the improvements also will make it safer. The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission cites “irregularities in the riding surface” as a major cause of injuries to experienced skateboarders.
Valenzuela, who originally built the skate park in 1996, credits community help for getting the refurbishment effort going.
Mike Wallace, with Sierra-Tahoe Ready Mix, donated truckloads of concrete for the project as well as the some of the heavy equipment used to tear out the asphalt.
“If it wasn’t for Wallace, we wouldn’t be working on the park,” Valenzuela said.
Wallace, who has four sons, donated materials for the original park and hopes improvements will keep kids going to the skate park rather than getting into trouble.
“Somebody has to do something for the kids in the community,” Wallace said Thursday.
Valenzuela also was complimentary toward the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. When he approached the department about refurbishing the skate park, he got a prompt “Let’s do it,” Valenzuela said.
The 41-year-old hopes to have the skate park ready to skate again in about a month, but without a full-time construction crew, the reopening date isn’t certain.
Ultimately, volunteers have bigger ideas for the Bijou skate park.
Mike Underwood of Recyclebilly Booking – who helped Valenzuela remove some remaining chunks of asphalt from the skate park on Tuesday – has promoted several skate-park benefit concerts at local music venues over the past two years to raise money for further improvements to the skate park.
Although no plans have been drawn, covering and lighting the skate park, as well as building a street section and a bowl, are among the ideas Valenzuela and Underwood mentioned Tuesday.
The South Lake Tahoe skate park is one of about 2,500 skate parks in the United Sates, used by more than 13 million skateboarders nationwide, according to the Tony Hawk Foundation.
Just as four-wheeled users of Bijou Community Park can expect some new features shortly, four-legged visitors to the park also will have more to do soon.
The grand opening of a more than 30,000-square-foot dog park at Bijou is scheduled for 10 a.m. Aug. 18.
Parks and Recreation Department staff have discussed having a “soft opening” for the dog park sometime next week but had not set a definite date.
Last October, the South Lake Tahoe City Council approved $35,000 to construct the dog park, which will provide a place for dogs to play off-leash in a fenced area.
The park is expected to include benches, water fountains and “mutt mitts” for cleaning up after the park’s pawed patrons.