OCEANSIDE — The long-awaited Alex Road Skatepark opened to 300 skateboarders on Aug. 30.
After opening speeches and a ribbon cutting, kids of all ages strapped on their helmets, got on their skateboards and tried out the facility.
Alex Road Skatepark is the fifth and largest skate park the city has constructed. At 22,000 square feet, it is twice the size of other city skateparks. The all-cement skatepark features two deep bowls, a snakerun and a street skate area. Between its features are transition areas that allow skateboarders to skate continuously through the park.
“There are two good size bowls that range from 4 feet to 12 feet,” Nathan Mertz, parks development manager, said. “The street section features street features like banks, ledges and handrails.”
Alex Road Skatepark is the third cement skatepark the city constructed since it designed a citywide skate park system plan in 2006.
“This park is part of a process that started in 2006, continuing on with our skatepark system in a decentralized park format, where essentially we’re trying to distribute these parks geographically throughout the city, close to neighborhoods and transportation points, where everybody can enjoy them,” Mertz said.
The process started with building a temporary skatepark in the downtown beach area. The high use of the skatepark proved there was a need. The closure of the skatepark drove the city to address the demand.
“It prompted us to seek out direction and look at park sites,” Mertz said.
A plan to put several small- to medium-size skateparks throughout the city was decided on through a series of neighborhood meetings led by Parks and Recreation staff and attended by residents, and members of the city skatepark committee and Tony Hawk Foundation.
“A few years ago the Tony Hawk Foundation got involved with the city in helping it masterplan its skatepark system,” Miki Vuckovich, Tony Hawk Foundation executive director, said. “At the time the city realized there was a need for skateparks in Oceanside, and realized with the size of the city and amount of skaters here, a single skatepark wouldn’t suffice.”
Two small skateboard sites were developed in the John Landes and Libby Lake neighborhoods. The parks include a basic layout of small wood and steel ramps.
Three distinct concrete skateparks were planned.
Each cement skate park has unique features, which gives skateboarders the opportunity to skate at their neighborhood park, and travel across the city to experience a different park.
“Rather than make all of them cater to everybody the city realized specializing those parks a little bit would give each park a unique appeal,” Vuckovich said.
“They literally brought in the best designers, the best builder and tapped into the local skate community to find out what do the skaters here really want.”
By 2009 two of the three cement skateparks were constructed.
“In 2007 we selected a design team and started working on the first three parks,” Mertz said. “We built two skateparks right off the bat in 2007 to 2009.”
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Skatepark, located in the park by the same name, is a flow course with medium-size transitional elements. The flow course design attracts a mix of younger and older skaters.
The Melba Bishop Skatepark, located in Melba Bishop Park, includes geometric street features. The street style course attracts younger, teen skaters.
Both skateparks are heavily used and have proven to be good investments for the city.
“On a given summer afternoon the baseball and soccer fields are empty and the (Martin Luther King, Jr.) skatepark has a considerable amount of people inside it,” Mertz said. “It’s more bang for the buck.”
“Its popularity warrants just as much space in the park as a basketball court, baseball field or playground.”
At the same time the first two cement skate parks were built, design plans were also drawn up for the Alex Road Skatepark, which is bowl heavy with pool-type terrain and some street features. The bowl course attracts older skaters in their 20s and 30s.
The Alex Road Skatepark project sat idle until sufficient funds were raised for its $946,350 construction cost.
Funds were secured through a $428,000 Land and Water Conservation Fund grant, $25,000 Tony Hawk Foundation grant, and city park development funds.
California Skateparks of Upland constructed Alex Road Skatepark, which is located on Alex Road and Foussat Road next to the San Luis Rey River.
“What the city of Oceanside did was create a really comprehensive skatepark system that really caters to all types of skaters,” Vuckovich said. “It gives them each a place that’s comprehensive to that type of skating, and citywide world-class skateparks.”
“Our hats off to Oceanside and anyone who’s involved in this process and getting these parks built, because they really did it right.”
Future city plans are to renovate the skateboard sites in the John Landes and Libby Lake neighborhoods, construct an additional skatepark at El Corazon Park, and add a skateboarding site to the beach area.