Escondido in line to get new skate parks

Escondido in line to get new skate parks
At a recent rally in Washington Park, skaters voice plenty of support for a new skate park in the city. Last week, the Escondido City Council said the project should move forward. Photo by Tony Cagala

ESCONDIDO — The ramps, rails and bowls are coming, but it will take time.

The Escondido City Council agreed the city’s skateboarders and the like need facilities around the city.

Last week, Community Services Manager Karen Williams, Assistant Director of Community Services Danielle Lopez and Director of Community Services Lorretta McKinney reported to the council on the possibilities of constructing skate spots and a regional skate park.

The women, along with the council, said constructing a skate spot at Washington Park was a priority. The city held a rally on Jan. 14 at the park to gather input from residents and skaters about their wants and needs.

Councilman John Masson, a skateboarder in his youth, said he understands the need and stressed the council and city must act to put these facilities in place.

“This is awesome,” he added. “I grew up as a skater in Escondido. I understand the whole process of skaters getting pushed out.”

Masson said the facilities in the inner core of the city would benefit those kids, although the city must find the money.

City staff recommended a 5,000-square foot skate park at Washington Park where the basketball courts now are and replacing the tennis courts with the basketball courts. The expected cost is $250,000.

McKinney, Lopez and Williams also identified other city parks for potential skate sites.

McKinney said Jesmond Dene Park, Mountain View and Westside could accommodate 1,500-sqaure foot skate spots, while Grape Day and Washington parks could handle 5,000-square foot facilities. Kit Carson, meanwhile, would be the regional location with at least a 20,000-sqaure foot park.

“They total 27,500-sqaure feet or slightly less than half of the recommended size of 61,000-sqaure for a city with Escondido’s population and assumed skater demographic,” McKinney said. “These park sites and sizes provide a guide for future potential planning.”

She added Capital Improvement Project funds could be used to pay for a new facility, but not upgrade the existing skate park at Kit Carson. City staff met with professional skate park designers and they recommended demolishing and building a new park at Kit Carson.

Kit Carson currently has a skateboard park, but it is not skater friendly, Masson said.

Williams said the dilapidated Kit Carson facility was constructed in 1997 with primarily metal features leading to burns. The city later installed mostly with wood ramps with metal edging.

Williams added the Kit Carson skate park is open 32 to 34 hours per week and about 7,000 kids use it per year. Of those, 80 percent are scooter riders, 15 percent BMX bikers and 5 percent for skateboarders.

In addition, the city pays $20,000 for ongoing repairs due to the wood, and a total annual cost of $97,000 per year to operate it.

The city charges an entry fee at Kit Carson Park, which is $10 for an annual membership and $5 per two-hour session or $10 per session without the membership. A six-month pass is available for $99 and one-year pass for $149.

“This is not new,” Councilman Ed Gallo said. “This has been asked for, for years.

The need for the skate park is there and we should just do it. It would make a whole lot of people happy.”

Lopez, meanwhile, said the cost for a regional skate park, which is typically 20,000-sqaure feet, is about $1 million. A neighborhood park at about 8,000 to 10,000-square feet has a smaller capacity with a cost from $400,000 to $500,000.

Skate spots, meanwhile, range from 3,000 to 5,000-sqaure feet, have the smallest capacity and would cost between $150,000 to $250,000.

“Staff met with skate park engineers and designers and met with possible funding source,” Lopez said. “Grants, private donors, corporate donors, state and fed grants and in-kind donations are options. The new site should take into account proximity … accessibility for walkers, bikers and skaters.”

Councilwoman Olga Diaz said the Grape Day skate park should be part of the bond measure for the expansion project, while her colleague, Mike Morasco, agreed and said the renovation of the city parks must be prioritized.

“We need renovation of city parks, which are so woefully underfunded in terms of maintenance and renovation,” Morasco added. “I support the first phase at Washington … and I would like to see the size bumped up.”

As for funding, the city does not have a surplus of money to fund any of the proposed projects. Instead, they are looking to nonprofits such as the Tony Hawk Foundation, grants, corporate donations and community fundraising.

“The most successful skate parks in the United States have been built in part by $1 to $5 from local folks,” City Manager Graham Mitchell said. “We need to have a campaign to make that happen.”

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