The city will spend $846,000 to bring half pipes and skate rails to City Heights. The money will fund a small plaza for skateboarding in the pending Central Avenue Mini Park project.
The skate plaza stops short of the full-sized skate park promised to City Heights youth who have lobbied to bring such a park to the community.
The skate plaza was tacked onto the park’s plans after City Heights skaters organized by the Mid-City Community Advocacy Network lobbied their local recreation board and city officials in 2011. The resulting agreement called for the community to identify funds for the addendum.
But, ultimately, it was the city that found the money.
Development Services transferred a grant awarded to a now-defunct park project in southeastern San Diego called Festival Park to the skate plaza.
Brian Schoenfisch, a senior planner with the city, said the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation backed away from the Festival Park project as the nonprofit undergoes a transition in leadership.
The park grant, awarded to cities as an incentive for building affordable housing, must be spent before 2016, which matches Central Avenue’s timeline.
But Schoenfisch said there was another reason the city picked up the skate plaza project.
“The kids made it easy for us to choose this project,” Schoenfisch said. “That’s what I love about this project — the kids were really brilliant in how they brought it to the city’s attention.”
City Heights youth have been asking for a skate park since 2010, but ramped up efforts last year when Councilwoman Marti Emerald and Mayor Bob Filner were campaigning in their community. The youth had each candidate sign a pledge to bring a skate park to City Heights.
A spokesperson for Emerald says her office and the mayor are exploring options to lease city land on the cheap to the skaters, who would need to find funds to install the skate park.
A skate park built by the city could cost as much as $5.5 million. A representative from the Tony Hawk Foundation says a privately built skate park would cost $40 per square foot — that’s about $1.6 million for a skate park similar in size to the one at Robb Field in Ocean Beach.
Megan Burks is a reporter for Speak City Heights, a media project of Voice of San Diego, KPBS, Media Arts Center and The AjA Project. You can contact her directly at email@example.com or 619.550.5665.