Rarely does applause come after a city council vote in Vista, but tonight spontaneous appreciation came after a unanimous vote to select two city-owned locations and finally get going on replacing the skateboard park demolished by the City in order to build the new City Hall/Civic Center in 2010.
"We've identified 14 potential locations," said John Conley, director of community development for the City of Vista. Many of those properties were actually city-owned, located near transportation sites and at least 10,000 square feet in size.
Two out of 14 sites
Having two sites to replace the one which was taken is an idea which came about during discussions with enthusiasts about separating beginners from intermediate/advanced skateboarders, and the council members seemed to like the idea. The two most appreciated sites, identified in the staff report , were:
1. 510 N. Santa Fe Ave. (next to Yingst Appliance) City-owned (11,902 square feet)
2: 902 Vista Village Dr. (NE corner of Palm Dr.) City-owned (10,680 square feet).
Grants were mentioned as a way to pay for some of the park costs, since the two locations are located in low income, disadvantaged parts of the city.
'Blah, blah, blah"
Conley also presented the history of why Vista is the only North County city that doesn't have a skateboard park. The official story can be found in the agenda report. A more concise summary is found in a 2008 warning to board riders, from the website Grimygoods, which stated:
"The Vista Skatepark, one of the first public skateparks in San Diego, is set to be ruined in August 11. Apparently the city of Vista needs to build a new ($55. 2 million) civic center on the site. They plan on relocating the skatepark, 'but it’s going to take a while.' Blah, blah, blah … don’t hold your breath on that one. They probably plan on funding this new civic center with all the tickets they will be giving skaters. Shred before it’s shredded."
Online website BrokenMagazine also added to the information to locals in 2011:
"The city demolished its only skatepark in 2008 to make way for the new Civic Center. Vista had earmarked about $500,000 to replace the park, but used that money to help balance its 2009-10 budget."
Local skateboarders, however, know they lost the ability to "shred" in their own hometown after voters debated and then approved Proposition L in 2007, (see smartvoter.org, for the arguments if you are curious.)
Those online sentiments have been echoed by many frustrated enthusiasts, but tonight's remarks by Lisa Flaherty of the Vista Skate Coalition were filled with thank yous. J.C. Wynne, a supporter of Vista youth sports, addressed the council members and the mayor a bit more realistically perhaps when he told them:
"No more talk, no more study...."
Wynne added that he hoped maybe by this summer he should see one park already done.
Vista councilwoman Amanda Rigby seemed satisfied that "something tangible" is now "within our grasp." She also noticed that Wildwood Park would have been a bad choice for her, since so many families seem to use the park already for parties, and taking away any of that space for a skateboard park would have been a difficult idea for her because of that.
Rigby also wondered about the youth in South Vista, noting the large population of skateboarders there and the fact that many"skateboarders don't drive yet."
Councilman Dave Cowles liked the fact that "... we have young people who are actively engaged in a positive, productive sport... " Cowles wanted to be supportive of the youth and would go along with the recommendations he said.
Praise came from Deputy Mayor John Aguilera as well for "... all the hard work" done by the Skate Coalition, Vista City employees, Parks and Recreation. He did mention that maybe some felt it might be "frustrating" to deal with the city, but that he thought "... after all this going back and forth" they had come up with great suggestions. Aguilera suggested going with city property, as he saw no need to buy prop from private owners when the city had property. He liked the suggestion to separate skill levels and have two parks.
A 'net positive'
And since he wanted "a net positive" for the City, Aguilera believed that adding the two skate parks from existing properties was much more desirable than simply carving out areas from existing parks in Vista.
Mayor Judy Ritter laughed and said Aguilera mentioned the points she wanted to make. He retorted that he was using her notes, which got a laugh. Ritter also mentioned she wanted to use City-owned property, just to avoid a situation of having "to haggle" over private property.
The motion made by Cowles, and seconded by Aguilera expressed the aim to choose the two site, 1 and 2, while keeping the rest of the 14 "in reserve" just in case "something falls through."