Guest blogger Scott Bailey: make skateboard park about skating and not a place to drink or do drugs

24 Sep

Scott Bailey,  a teacher at Table Mountain School in Oroville, has approached Chico Area Recreation District about dealing with the problems surrounding the skateboard park on Humboldt Ave. As he says, this discussion has stalled in CARD meetings for a couple of years now. CARD’s former maintenance manager Jake (can’t remember his last name) wanted to get rid of the park altogether, frustrated with a lack of action from the board, he finally left CARD. He was the guy who had to deal physically with the human filth and vandalism that has plagued that park almost since it was built. He also had to field complaints of inappropriate activities. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ORcCRmJQP6I

BMX bikes are not supposed to use the skateboard park. When I found this video I was looking for one I’d seen about a year ago in which a small car was driven around our little skatepark, really fast and furious. Not to mention, the usual drug and alcohol activities that aren’t caught on video. 

So, below, Scott Bailey details efforts to fix the current skateboard park and maybe get a bigger one at DeGarmo Park. What impresses me, is that the aquatics center group was never asked to do any of this stuff. Read on. 

 

Prior to the skatepark being on the agenda with CARD for September, I met with Ann Willmann, the new general manager, to discuss the topic. Ann and I worked a bit together when she was in Oroville and she was instrumental in getting replacement skatelite (smooth skateable surface material) for the Oroville park. Our meeting in Chico was really just to discuss the major issues: underbuilt park, lack of draw for adults and families with cars, issues with non skaters (drugs and alcohol, homeless presence), too much “hang out” space, surrounding cities with nice skateparks and far less population size, what is needed to bring in adult skaters, and more.

Ann informed me that with the current unfilled staff positions and several projects she is currently working on, that she would be asking to table the skatepark agenda until January. This was frustrating because the skatepark has a history of being tabled. In fact, last summer CARD held a series of sub-meetings with local skaters to discuss similar issues and even though a draft was created of the results, they were never presented to the CARD board. Instead they were tabled. Needless to say, I walked into the September CARD meeting ready to defend why it is so important that we move on this now.

The goals of our group, Chico Skatepark Solutions, are to eliminate the grass and seating areas in and next to the park and to replace those items with quality skateboard amenities. Our plan includes offering things that will bring in adult skaters and families. Currently adult and family skaters travel to neighboring communities and beyond to skateboard nice parks. If we make the Chico park into a nice park with challenging events, those skaters will be in Chico and will help to increase the adult supervision in the park. Eliminating the “hang out” spots will also help to make the park about skating and not a place to drink or do drugs.

The Chico CARD board all seemed very interested in making the skatepark expansion happen and in moving towards the solution now. They specifically asked about the cost of such an endeavor and we let them know that the bare bones for building a skateboard bowl would be approximately $60,000, but if we want to make quality changes, it will be closer to $120,000. The board was very pleased that this was such an attainable number and even discussed parks money that the City Council oversees that may work for the project. It was decided that an ad hoc committee would be formed, including board member Jan Sneed, and possibly Tom Lando. Ann Willmann will also be part of the committee as will the Chico Skatepark Solutions group.

We are hopeful that this momentum will continue and that the skatepark expansion will happen in a timely fashion. We have recently been given permission from producer, Greg Hunt, to show his new Vans skateboarding film, Propeller, as a fundraising event and we are waiting for a reply from Sierra Nevada Brewery if they will donate the Big Room as a venue and also donate the dinner for the event. We have been in contact with Grindline and Evergreen skateparks to ask about help with developing plans for the area. We have also approached a printing company about making T-Shirts that will bring in some money and help show the community commitment to making this project come to fruition. Additionally, we have contacted Golden Valley Bank to potentially create a non-profit account under their 501c3 umbrella. Ultimately, we will become a non-profit organization ourselves as we move forward and in the future we will also help with a new skatepark at Degarmo.

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