By Mary O’KEEFE
Local skateboarders from the Fire House youth center spent Saturday at Belvedere Community Regional Park in East Los Angeles. They were there at the invitation of the L.A. Department of Parks and Recreation to check out the design of Belvedere’s skate park.
The teens have formed a committee to bring a skate park to Crescenta Valley. At present there is a park in La Cañada and another in Verdugo Park in Glendale. The skaters have found that the park hours in La Cañada are too limited and the bus ride to and from the Glendale park restricts their board time.
About a year ago, skaters from the Fire House met Al Evans from parks and recreation and began talking about a park. Led by Cooper Iven, a CV High School junior, the skaters looked into the possibility of building a park locally. They met with Evans again and decided the best area to explore would be CV Park at 3901 Dunsmore Ave.
“We walked the park and chose three areas we thought would work for the skate park,” Ivens said.
Evans took the information and began working through the park and recreation system with the proposed areas. Then Evans was transferred to another section of county parks, and Frank Gonzales took over for the Crescenta Valley area.
“We [L.A. County Parks and Rec] have built many skate parks,” Gonzales said.
Gonzales has been involved with the construction of several of those parks. He is now guiding the Crescenta Valley skaters toward their goal of having their own site.
The Fire House skaters are in a unique position of not only having their own park built, but also designing it as well. Their Saturday trip to East Los Angeles was the beginning of that design.
“This is a $1 million park,” Gonzales said of Belvedere Skate Park. “It was started when a kid, a skate boarder, was run over [by a vehicle].”
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, parks and recreation, local businesses, parents and the entire community worked together to build the park. The facility has pools, a wall ride, vert waves and more including stairs and a railing.
“They can come here and get the same elements they would at [public buildings and businesses],” he said.
Some skaters get a bad reputation because they skate on private property and at times cause damage. Giving skaters a place to practice their sport takes them off the street and into an area that is designed specifically for them.
However, Gonzales admits some skaters in East L.A. still like skating at a nearby office building. That is why Iven and his committee of skaters want to make certain they have a voice in the design and structure of their park. The CV skaters like street skating and want their facility designed to reflect that preference.
Having that choice and promoting a safe alternative to street skating is what Saturday was all about.
“We like a lot of what is here,” Ivens said of the Belvedere site. “But we want more street.”
In addition to scoping out Belvedere, the teens were treated to raffle prizes that the parks and rec department purchased. They were also given lunch.
At the end the day, the skaters were happy with what they saw and had ideas of what they want for their park. The next step, according to Gonzales, is for the skaters to meet with skate park architects to discuss the design and the cost of a developing a park. Then the long road to the L.A. County Planning Department and fundraising.
The Fire House is a non-religious youth center located at the corner of Rosemont Avenue and Foothill Boulevard. The center is on the St. Luke’s of the Mountains property and is supported by St. Luke’s, local organizations including Prom Plus, Crescenta Cañada Lion’s Club, CVHS PTSA, Rosemont PTA and the Rosemont Korean Parents Club, Glendale Police and CV Sheriff’s Station, as well as community members.
It is open to any high school-aged student on Tuesdays from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. or to Rosemont Middle School students on Thursdays from 7:15 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.
For information on the Fire House, contact Rev. Bryan Jones or Holly Stauffer (818) 248-3639.