Thursday, November 15, 2007

Temporary Repairs Begin At Skate Park

Jon Cotham of Jon Cotham Environmental, a local green builder, works to make repairs on the Ojai Skate Park at Chaparral. “I’m basically coughing up a huge amount of labor,” says Cotham, citing the $10,000 put forth by the city just barely covers material costs.

By Nao Breverman
The Ojai Skate Park is getting its temporary facelift this week. Ordered materials were received much sooner than expected, so work has resumed to get the popular skateboard facility back in use as soon as possible.
“It is in need of an overhaul,” said Ojai Recreation Department supervisor Jayden Morrison. “We’re trying to mend it with $10,000, which doesn’t go far.” The Ojai City Council voted in October to remove the skate park’s hazardous features and repair the more popular attractions until a more permanent facility can be built.
The course’s pyramid has been removed in order to revamp the half pipe and make the edges, spines and borders at the park safer. Morrison said that the design is to be opened up for better visibility in effort to reduce after-hours trespassing and such.
Twenty-four 4-by-8-foot sheets of Skatelite Pro, a durable composite material, has been received to replace the old wooden surfaces of the course, reducing splinters and increasing safety for the park users. “They cost about $150 each, so you can see how far the money goes,” said Morrison.
Morrison estimated the park would be ready for use this weekend, after painting and surface installation. As far as a more permanent facility, “There’s a meeting of the City Council Nov. 27 to see where we’re going with that.” A report is then expected by city staff on the status of a lease agreement with Ojai Unified School District, the property owner.
Morrison said he hopes the local, nonprofit fund-raising group, Sk8 Ojai, will be contributing funds to the park site’s permanent course, as well as the city of Ojai. The amount the city will be able to allocate will be assessed during the meeting.
Sk8 Ojai’s Wendy Hilgers is waiting patiently for the city to announce its intentions toward a permanent skate facility. She said that the group has some donors set up to contribute to the project, but, “Until we know what the target amount is, we can’t really collect donations. We’d like to be able to tell people a figure.”
Besides serving as the fund-raising arm and contacting different builders, Sk8 Ojai has been conducting research on skate parks in general. Hilgers expressed disappointment in losing the pyramid feature during the temporary repair. “The pyramid is the one element that gave you speed,” she said.
The anticipated cost of a permanent skate facility — estimates hover around $500,000 — is also expected from the city during the first quarterly budget review on Nov. 27. “The council has told us at many meetings they want this to be a city facility,” said Hilgers. With expansion of the skate park perimeters, the permanent facility will be a 10,000-square-foot park. “We’ve been told in our research that is a pretty standard size for a city skate park,” Hilgers said.
Hilgers initially got involved with the skate park efforts when her grandson, now 20, was 11. She hopes skate park supporters will show up at the meeting on Nov. 27. “We’re all just interested and concerned because of the kids,” she said. “It’s a place that we need for those next generations.”

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