Thursday, October 2, 2008

Ojai Skate Park Plans Ramp Up

Next step is for design to go back for planners’ approval

By Nao Braverman
If the Ojai’s skate park is being built for local skateboarders, then the skaters themselves should be involved in critiquing the park’s design, planning commissioners agreed at Wednesday night’s planning meeting.
“It’s been a really long time since I’ve been on a skateboard,” said Commissioner Troy Becker. “I would look to working with the kids in the community and whatever elements that they think are necessary.”
Fortunately Site Design Group staff already had planned to coordinate with Ojai’s youth.
The preliminary design presented to both the Planning Commission and Parks and Recreation Department Wednesday night had been scrutinized by a number of local skateboarders during two workshops on Sept. 13 and Sept. 22, where participants told Site Design Group staff what they wanted in their park.
The design they came up with was a transition-style park with street plaza-style features. A transitional park allows skateboarders to skate their way between various elements, within the park, explained Jeff Gibson, a Site Design Group representative.
Ojai skaters also wanted features that you might find in the street so it feels like they are skating a plaza or some other urban scape.
As an in-ground park, it is designed to begin 1 foot below grade, so skateboarders would skate down into the approximately 12,000-square-foot area.
While planning commissioners were interested in incorporating landscaping, Gibson explained that skateboarders wanted to get as many elements in the space they were given as they possibly could. Landscaping could be added to the surrounding areas to provide some shading for spectators, however.
With Ojai’s style and aesthetics in mind, the proposed design includes an entry wall with a community-donated art piece.
As the park is below grade, spectators entering the park would get an optimal view from above as they walk in, said Gibson.
Sasha Wolfe, the only voice of dissent, brought a bag of fresh vegetables to protest the loss of more than half of the community garden with the skate park’s expansion.
Skate Ojai member Wendy Hilgers assured her, however, that she and some skaters would be glad to start a new and improved community garden after construction of the park.
The existing garden could use a fresh start, she told commissioners.
Bob Daddi, another member of Skate Ojai added that the entire area surrounding the community garden needed to be cleaned up, and that the skate park remodeling would offer a good opportunity to do so.
Commissioners agreed. Always concerned about fencing, the planning commissioners said they would be in a better position to comment on the skate park barrier when they had a better idea of how it would be used. That depends on how the park will be managed and whether it will be supervised, said Becker.
But such decisions will have to wait until the skate park’s design is reviewed by the City Council.
“I think what we need is a sub-committee of kids,” said Commissioner John Mirk. But Gibson said they already had the whole skateboarding community involved.
One local skateboarder attended the planning meeting to urge Gibson to include one popular element that wasn’t in the design presented.
Local residents can review the design by visiting the company’s web site at


Judy Gabriel said...

Thank you Nao for your article.

The skateboarder who spoke to the two commissions was Jacob Sessing, a member of the Ojai High School Skate Team. Jacob requested that a step-up be added to the park layout.
In the previous conceptual design presented by Skate Design there were three step-ups and they had all been removed in error. Jeff spoke to the skaters after the meeting and assured them that one will be included in the final design. He asked that the skaters review the design and email their suggestion of where to place the element. He also asked for their choice on a round or flat rail on the two stair elements.
Site Design has been terrific in their inclusion of the skaters, of all ages, in this process.
Thank you to the two commissions for listening so intently to the presentation and approving this conceptual design.
Judy Gabriel

Anonymous said...

Will there be a smoking section

Anonymous said...

"Ojai skaters also wanted features that you find in the street so it feels like they are skating a plaza or some other urban scape."

Are they telling us where they will skate during the 7 months of construction?

Anonymous said...

They have never STOPPED skating in the Arcade Plaza area nor in Libbey Park! Agreed, there is alot of worse stuff going on in Libbey Park, transients drinking and smoking, Good reason for the local law to step up the patrolling of those areas.

I would like to end this with a positive. DAMN fine job of Wendy Hilgers and all of those involved in raising the funds for the skate park.

Anonymous said...

"Sasha Wolfe brought a bag of fresh vegatables...." If there was a chance to do it over again the protestor would still choose a basket over a bag; here's why: Baskets are better for displaying arrangements - imagine a cornucopia. Secondly, from a basket the aroma of herbs picked that day from the garden under discussion, the aroma of herbs such as basil, could waft into the nostrils of City Hall there to conjure up images of mouth watering pizzas. Thirdly, it is into a basket that, at the conclusion of the verbal phase of her appeal, the petitioner for the preservation of garden space, lacking power graphics to make her point, could, as a performance piece, pour cement over the herbs and vegetables leaving visible only the tips of the finger-like okra. Imagine here the hand of desparate mother nature signaling to us "Help! I'm drowining in a sea of cement", frozen forever in concrete. Or not.