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Skateboard Site Urged for Mission Park

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A City Council subcommittee studying ideas for a city-funded skateboard park recommended Wednesday that such a facility be built downtown at Mission Park, the area south of the Ventura County Historical Museum.

The park, expected to cost between $150,000 and $250,000, would provide Ventura’s youth with an alternative to sidewalks and the plazas of downtown Ventura for skateboarding, according to a consultant’s report.

It would also appease downtown merchants by luring skateboarders away from the pedestrians and tourist attractions of Main Street to less-crowded Santa Clara Street, the report states.

Area skaters seemed to embrace the idea.

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“All the businesses down here hate us right now,” said 18-year-old Mark Thompson, skating on the weathered curbs of the plaza next to the California 66 restaurant in downtown Ventura. “They need to give us somewhere else to skate. Mission Park’s a great location.”

Not all downtown merchants and residents, however, are excited about a skateboard park in their vicinity.

The proposed site is near the 49-room Ramada Clock Tower Inn, several restaurants and an apartment complex for seniors. Some downtown residents and merchants say they will fight to keep the skateboard park out.

“We don’t like that idea,” said Sam Sevak, the hotel’s manager. “It would be a nuisance for us. This is a peaceful hotel. That’s why people come here. This would hurt our business.”

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Ed Robings, the museum’s director, could not be reached for comment Wednesday. One museum official, who asked not to be identified, said museum staff members had been unaware of the city’s proposal and “felt blindsided.”

The recommendation by the three-member council subcommittee will be presented to the Community Affairs Commission Nov. 9. The full City Council will discuss the proposal later this month.

Purkiss Rose RSI, a consultant on parks and recreation planning, studied Mission Park, Promenade Park and the former recreation center site beside City Memorial Park to determine the best location for a skateboard park.

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The Fullerton-based firm concluded that Mission Park was the best site because it is in downtown Ventura and already has parking, public restrooms and picnic areas nearby, as well as access to public transportation.

A skateboard park would also enhance downtown Ventura’s tourist potential and would provide a forum for special events, according to the report.

But Mission Park’s proximity to the Ramada and the senior apartments may cause noise problems for existing residents, the consultant concluded. Furthermore, the area’s proximity to the 213-year-old San Buenaventura Mission means there could be archeological concerns with digging on the property.

“The first thing we need to find out is whether this thing has archeological sites,” Councilman Jack Tingstrom said. “That could kill the thing right there.”

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R. W. Negus, a senior who lives near the mission, said Mission Park would not be a safe place for young skaters to congregate because the park attracts drug dealers and transients.

“I think it would be a mistake,” he said. “Right now, putting a 10- or 11-year-old into that area alone is really asking for trouble.”

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Promenade Park’s oceanfront location near Surfers Point was viewed both as an advantage and a detriment. Although a seaside skateboard park in an area that already features parking and public restrooms would very likely attract tourists to Ventura, the sand and wind from the beach would hamper skaters, the consultant concluded.

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And the former recreation center site features the most central location, but is situated on a steep grade facing busy Main Street. That would present safety concerns as well as drainage problems, the consultant found.

The design of the skateboard park recommended by Purkiss Rose RSI would provide opportunities for skateboarders of all ability levels.

It would feature curbs, benches, rails, garden walls, ramps and planters akin to a typical downtown plaza.

Another area in the park would feature a series of large ramps and bowl-shaped courses to perform skateboarding maneuvers, each suited to a varying degree of skill, and laid out in such a way that skaters could hit several ramps in a series.

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The area would also offer ramps--shaped much like a quarter-section or half-section of a large pipe--to permit aerial tricks.

If the facility proved successful, the consultant suggests that Ventura consider building another similar-sized park in the east end of town.

Councilman Steve Bennett said he was concerned the skateboard park would cost Ventura more than double the $75,000 the City Council was initially told it would have available to spend.

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Bennett asked consultants to submit a more stripped-down design for consideration, with the possibility that the city, with help from the private sector, could add to it later.

“The great question is, ‘Where does the money come from?’ ” Bennett asked. “We know we have $75,000, but we don’t know where to go beyond that.”


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