By Mary O’KEEFE
About two years ago at an Arbor Day celebration, then Crescenta Valley High School junior Cooper Iven was introduced to Al Evans of Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation. Their discussion concerned skaters and the fact that there was no nearby place for them to skate.
There is a skate park at Verdugo Park in Glendale; however, that facility now charges a fee and most kids in the Crescenta Valley area either had to skate there, take the bus or get a parent to drive them. The skate park in La Cañada has non-consistent hours of service. So the CV skaters wanted to know how to get a park of their own.
Iven gathered several skaters and formed a non-traditional committee. He, along with fellow skaters Austin Seo and Corbin Southworth, began meeting with other skaters and discussing what kind of park they wanted.
Frank Gonzales, deputy director of parks and recreation, took Evans’ place and the discussion continued. Gonzales had navigated the construction several skate parks and prepared the kids for everything that had to be done.
It was decided the best place for the park would be CV Park. The skaters were tasked with the job of walking the site and choosing three areas they thought would work. Then there was the question of what type of park – above ground or bowls. Gonzales arranged for trips to other L.A. County skate parks for skaters to check out the equipment.
All of this may sound like fun, but it was hard work and it has been through the perseverance of Iven that the project has moved forward. He sent emails to everyone involved, following up on the progress of the park and attended every skate park meeting. He also took questions, sometimes-heated ones, from the audience at CV Town Council when Gonzales made a presentation.
All the while, he remained professional and polite, even while dealing with budgets and regulations. Iven also put together a proposal that included a “dream park” with pictures and rules and regulations that should be part of the CV Park.
“It is impressive,” Gonzales said of Iven’s efforts.
On Tuesday night, the community thanked Iven for all that he did to promote and further the skate park. The celebration/thank you included the L.A. County Parks and Rec setting up a temporary skate park in the parking lot of the Fire House at St. Luke’s of the Mountains. Tuesday night’s event was kept a secret from Iven.
“I was not expecting this,” Iven said when he saw the celebration. “The first thing is thank you to Parks and Rec, Fire House, Prom Plus, [CV] Town Council and [everyone who supported the project].”
CV Town Councilmember Mike Claessens presented a certificate of appreciation from Supervisor Michael Antonovich. CVTC President Cheryl Davis presented another certificate from the council.
Gonzales announced that the skate park would come in front of the L.A. County board of supervisors at its next meeting for a vote.
Iven said that it was good news to receive just before he went off to college.
“It is a huge relief to [know] this is finally coming alive,” he said.
If approved, parks and rec will conduct three community meetings to discuss the park. Although Iven will be at UC Santa Barbara, he will still keep in touch with Gonzales and Seo, who is a senior this year.
“He won’t be that far away,” Gonzales said.