Crowd shows up for skatepark talk
By Karen Brainard
Approximately 75 people—three-fourths of them children, teens, and young adults—filled the Ramona Library Community Room Saturday, Dec. 1, to hear proposed plans for a skatepark.
Resident Joe Minervini, who organized the meeting, asked adults to volunteer to be on a skatepark executive committee
and about 10 people signed up.
Minervini said he wants to start out small to see one or two skateparks implemented as soon as possible, and then work toward a larger park.
“I want something the kids can use now,” said Minervini.
He proposed two phases with phase 1 calling for a skatepark possibly at the site of a tennis court in Collier Park that is already fenced and has a smooth surface for skating, and possibly one behind the Arriba Teen Center, 1710 Montecito Road, where there is a fairly flat slab, as well as an area with a gentle slope.
“We should try to obtain two small skateparks in Ramona…because then the kids don’t have to travel so far,” he said.
Minervini said volunteers would be needed to build ramps and to develop proposals to submit to the Ramona Unified
School District, which owns the Montecito property, and to the County of San Diego, which owns Collier Park.
He also asked for pro bono services of an attorney, and for volunteers to meet with County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, whose District 2 includes Ramona.
In addition, Minervini said, the skatepark group would need to file for 501c3, nonprofit status so later it could apply for funding for a larger skatepark, similar to what Lakeside is creating.
Minervini said the only county-owned skatepark in operation is in Julian. Lakeside, he said, is creating a skatepark, costing approximately $500,000—the normal cost for a large skatepark with equipment, he said. He encouraged the crowd to view information on the Lakeside skatepark plans, available at lakesideskatepark.org/Home_Page.php.
Liability connected with operating a skatepark has been a concern in the past. Minervini cited information from the State Health & Safety Code that requires skaters to wear helmets, elbow pads, and knee pads at a skatepark. It addresses parks that are owned and operated by public agencies and says signs must be posted to notice the requirements, and any skater failing to comply will be subject to citation.
“I know it’s a pain for some of you, but you’ve got to do it if you want a skatepark,” Minervini told the skaters.
Minervini mentioned that others in the community have tried to develop a skatepark but for unknown reasons stopped. Some in the crowd said they knew residents who have also been working on a skatepark.
“Let’s join forces,” Minervini said. “I think we all want the same thing.”
One attendee asked whether bicycle motorcross (BMX) would be allowed. He said at least 30 to 40 people in Ramona are involved in BMX.
Minervini said the skatepark should be the priority, and that BMX could be addressed in the future by the committee.
With the crowd and people gradually volunteering, Minervini said he is cautiously optimistic.
“Remember a lot of people have tried before, but they have given up,” he said.
Resident Heather Dixon advised that once a skatepark is in, those who use it should be respectful and not toss trash around.
“Really represent yourself out there and be polite…It’s going to hold an impact on our credibility,” she said.
Dixon, whose children skate, works for the McAlister Institute’s North Rural Teen Recovery Center in Ramona. She told the Sentinel that she supports the idea, and so does the institute.
“We’re all about the kids and healthy living,” she said. The young people get bored, she added, because there is nothing to do in Ramona.
Dixon said that, besides giving youth something to do, a skatepark could be an economic value for Ramona. When she takes her children to Poway or Escondido to their skateparks, Dixon said, she gives them money for snacks, and she often kills time by shopping in the stores of those communities.
Minervini said the executive committee plans to meet in a couple of weeks. For more information, contact Minervini at 760-787-5763 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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