Santa Cruz City Skatepark

The City of Santa Cruz has a real roller coaster, but the ups and downs in the history of building a new skatepark has truly taken our skate community for a ride!
     I will keep you posted from the battlefield, and appreciate input from anyone who wants to get involved. Officer Jim Howes, of the Santa Cruz Police has been involved since day one and has offered to give Real Skate a brief history. Jim has supported skaters long before the proposed new park came about. He was instrumental in keeping Derby Park alive when a few bad elements were causing trouble. Also, the park had taken on a second life by a few non-skater groups using it for partying and whatnot. Opposing the City's solution, which was to shut it down, Jim met with the skaters, posted an article in Thrasher and so to speak, gave them the "shape up or ship out" pep talk. But, most importantly in his own diplomatic style, showed them how they could "shape up," by using a very powerful technique called peer pressure, and suggested policing the park themselves. A sundown curfew quickly got rid of the partiers.
      It all worked out, Derby lives, and Santa Cruz skaters have proven themselves responsible, and willing and able to work with community issues. But we've outgrown Derby. It's a small snake run with a bowl at the end. A fun park, but inadequate and outdated. There are two major wholesale skate industries in town, and numerous retail shops, and a HUGE skater population.
     Santa Cruz is an active town. Aside from a skateboard oriented town, it has beaches, an amusement park, a world surf competition spot, a state university, a junior college, playgrounds, public parks, swimming pools, hiking and biking trails, a harbor, and a lively downtown area to name a few. It is a tourist town; it is not a retirement community or wildlife reserve. Skateparks belong here, and the locals desperately need them; nuff said.

Santa Cruz City Skatepark History - by Jim Howes

It Started With A Meeting—
Dan Flippo and I asked Jason Strubing to host a meeting at Skateworks. We felt if he hosted a meeting of skaters there would be a good turn out. That was April 10, 1996. Too long ago, if you consider time estimates for building a park. The first meeting included Ken Wormhoudt, who developed Derby Park and was instrumental in getting this project off the ground as well.
      May 7, 1996 was the second meeting. We were ready to approach city council on May 14, 1996. We felt the group was prepared, and they were. No outbursts, a good turnout, a good presentation by several key speakers, and the council approved the necessary money. What none of us understood however, was that the easy part was over and the wait was to begin. It is July 23, 2000 and the wait continues. Many meetings, Environmental Impact Reports, Coastal Commission Hearings, and more. The price of having the right to be heard.
     I offered to help with a problem-solving group and suggested that the group be formed immediately. I felt it would be helpful to address any complaints that came up prior to breaking ground and after. I suggested additional meetings at Skateworks and addressed organizing as a group of focused skaters. I suggested the group contact City Council, Parks and Recreation, Skate Shops and Manufacturers, Local Surf Shops, Local Politicians, City Schools, and others. To this day, this has not happened. This would have taken a great deal of effort I realize, however nothing worth having doesn't. I suggested a letter-writing campaign, request visits with Council members and others, present the case, ask for answers. Interesting to note that those protesting the park have done that, and continue doing it.
      To accomplish anything you must have an action plan with goals, objectives, and a time line. Tasks must be identified and assigned. A local skater, "Nat" completed a 15 page school report. This kind of effort should be undertaken by more skaters and presented to all those representing them who are in a position to help them. Consolidated Skateboards and "Moish" completed a 20 page action plan and posted it on their web site. It has everything from what to do, petitions, etc. Skaters should take a look. Moish Brenman and I met with Assemblyman Fred Keeley to discuss Assembly Bill 1296 which had to do with including skateboarding with other "daredevil" sports such as parachuting, etc., which reduces or eliminates some, if not all, liability from cities, etc., who provide a skatepark. He explained the bill and answered our questions.
      Special thanks go to those who worked on the project and continue to work on the project. Ken Wormhoudt (RIP) and his son Zach, Susan Harris and Jim Lang from Parks & Recreation, Moish Brenman, Jason Strubing, and anyone I might have missed. Skaters must want the park more than those who don't!

Jim Howes

Good News at LAST!!!!!!!!! (posted January, 2000) by clarkie

The proposed skatepark at Neary Lagoon was approved by the California Coastal Commission. This was the last (we hope) setback and hoop to jump through thanks to Carol Long who filed an appeal to the Coastal Commission saying the skatepark would harm the environment and increase noise.
      The City Parks folks would like to have a community meeting on it's design, (which we thought was already approved) within the next two weeks, with a goal of opening in August, 2000 . . . blah blah blah

. . . NOT! (posted August, 2000) by clarkie

She's baaaak! Construction of the skatepark has been haulted due to a law suit filed by Carol Long against the City of Santa Cruz and the California Coastal Commission for building a skatepark. Having not seen the official complaint yet, apparently Ms. Long feels a skatepark in it's approved location would disturb the birds who frequent a nearby lagoon. Trust me on this one folks, the Coastal Commission around here is the big daddy over ANYTHING getting built. If they say it's a go, then it's a go! The Coastal Commission, among other environmental groups appointed by the City, investigated the original complaint from Ms. Long and found it would have no impact on the local environment.
     Until I talk to the local City Attorney, I don't want to blab about and risk screwing up the defense case. But, I will keep you posted on everything that can be published, and let you know if there are any actions we ourselves can take to help out.



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