By Jason KUROSU
The Los Angeles County board of supervisors approved a plan to build the Crescenta Valley Skate Park, a long-awaited project to be constructed within Crescenta Valley Park. The plan was approved at the board of supervisors’ regular Tuesday meeting, and reportedly has a construction budget of $800,000 and an operating budget of $79,000 annually for maintenance and staffing.
It was over two years ago when then-Crescenta Valley High School junior Cooper Iven met with Al Evans of the L.A. County Parks and Recreation Dept. at an Arbor Day event at Two Strike Park. At the time, Evans was in charge of the area parks.
“Basically, I was complaining that everyone thought skaters were hoodlums and I was pretty sick of it,” recalled Iven. “[A volunteer from the Fire House youth center] told me to do something about it.”
Iven was a powerful force at the Fire House. He spoke to other skaters and it became obvious that they wanted, and needed, a place to skate. Iven spoke to Evans about the possibility of building a skate park.
Community teenagers formed the CV Skate Park Committee with the mission of bringing a skate park to La Crescenta. The committee worked with parks and rec officials on the design of the park, its placement and rules.
During this time, Evans was transferred and Frank Gonzales took his place as director of parks and recreation for the area. He was as enthusiastic as his predecessor about the idea.
“Parks and rec has been on our side,” Iven said of the partnership forged between the department and the skaters.
But the process has been a study in red tape and patience.
“I learned patience and, beyond that, I have learned that perseverance pays off,” Iven said. “Everyone says that, but until you go through it yourself it is an abstract concept.”
Gonzales arranged for two trips to other L.A. County skate parks. The skater committee traveled to those parks and then came back to discuss what they wanted in their own park. Among their ideas, the CV kids wanted their park to have more street-type equipment rather than bowls like those of the Verdugo Park facility in Glendale.
The group traveled to other parks, all the while pulling together ideas of their dream park. Iven compiled a proposal that included what they would like in a park and the rules that the committee thought should be posted.
Gonzales said the rules were reasonable.
The process has not been easy. Iven and the other skaters walked CV Park looking for a location for the skate park. Once that was done, there were studies, permits and funding that had to be worked out.
Iven, with Gonzales, introduced the idea of a skate park to an audience at a meeting of the CV Town Council. The pair answered questions about the proposal.
“Cooper has been fantastic,” Gonzales said.
The vote on Tuesday was a relief to everyone connected with the project.
“It is so gratifying. We waited so long,” Iven said. “We waded through a lot of red tape and it [seemed] to move in slow motion.”
Gonzales said this process was normal when creating a skate park and was pleased that Iven never gave up.
“He was mature enough to know that this [process does not happen] right away,” he said.
For Iven, though, it was not just about the skate park, it was about the attitude toward skaters, too.
“There would be times when I would open a door to a store and people would glare at me,” he said.
That reaction, Iven said, was because he had his skateboard with him. He felt it was a response to how skaters are perceived. He had experienced that stereotype while promoting the skate park.
“It was a little intimidating at times,” he said. “Skaters are profiled but [those he met with] realized I have a mission and I have a goal.”
The community did show its support. Iven met with several organizations including CV Town Council, CV Chamber of Commerce and the Montrose Shopping Park Association, and all agreed to send letters of support for the skate park.
Now that the board of supervisors has approved it, Gonzales said it might be completed in about 24 months depending on what they may face during the ongoing planning process.
The parks and rec people and skate park kids will hold three community meetings; at present they are working on dates. These meetings will give residents a chance to voice their concerns and to join in the planning process.
Gonzales added that a consultant will be hired.
“I didn’t do this (skate park) to impress anyone or to get awards. I did this for the kids of the community … I want them to have somewhere they can do what they love to do.”
Parks and rec representatives said they will work with the skaters on the final design; however, there may be more things they have to work on including upgrading the parking lot among other things.
Iven will not be as involved with the project as it moves forward because he is heading off to college. He has transferred the skate park vigilance to CVHS senior and Fire House teen Austin Seo.
“I can’t wait to get to college but I will still be part of [the skate park],” he said. “I still have everyone’s emails and phone numbers.”