PACIFIC GROVE – For local skateboarders looking for a place to skate on the Monterey Peninsula, the cities of Monterey, Seaside and Marina offer numerous options with public skate parks open for community use. But Pacific Grove is trying to push the opportunity a little closer.
For the past few months, the Pacific Grove Recreation Board has been exploring the possibility of building a skate park in town. Now, having determined the approximate cost, identified needs and secured initial support from Pacific Grove City Council, a board subcommittee will recommend that city officials work out further details for the proposed project this week.
“[A skate park]would be huge,” said Elliott Hazen, a member of the Pacific Grove Recreation Board and Skate Park Subcommittee. “My kids are really involved in organized sport, but not every kid is like that. … We have this amazing community in Pacific Grove that is finding ways to get kids outside and be social. I am looking forward.”
Hazen explained that the idea of bringing a skate park to Pacific Grove was a function of grassroots support from the community, with local residents expressing a need for recreational opportunities.
“It was a big push from leaders and other people in the community,” Hazen said. “Right now I’m in the process of figuring out how I can help and seeing where a project like this might fit in Pacific Grove.”
According to an agenda report prepared for Thursday’s Recreation Board meeting, the skatepark subcommittee envisions a 10,000-square-foot skatepark with a potential construction cost of $600,000 to $700,000, with additional financial support for the upkeep and maintenance of the Public Works Department is required.
Too costly for Pacific Grove to fund alone, funding for the project is expected to come not only from the city, but also from grants and private donations. The financial ball is already rolling. Earlier this month, Pacific Grove City Council voted unanimously to allocate $158,000 of city-allocated American Rescue Plan Act funds to the development of a local skate park and include the project in Pacific Grove’s fiscal 2022-2023 capital improvement program .
“We know that ($158,000) isn’t enough to build a skate park, but it’s what you might call seed capital with the expectation that we’ll see a public fundraiser match those funds,” said Bill Peake, Mayor of Pacific Grove.
Thursday’s agenda report said a skate park advocacy group — the Pacific Grove Skatepark Project — plans to host a major fundraiser for the endeavor and engage the community through social events.
As for the immediate next steps, location is the biggest hurdle the Recreation Board has yet to overcome. With several proposed shortlisted areas for skate park placement — including George Washington Park, Arnett Park, Berwick Park, Caledonia Park, and a section of Forest Lodge Road between two Pacific Grove Unified School District locations — subcommittee members are asking staff the city for help in narrowing down the election.
Scoring is conducted based on a skate park industry established guideline known as the Skatepark Site Selection Criteria Scoring Sheet. Accessibility, visibility, existing infrastructure and security are among the key factors for determining the location, according to Thursday’s agenda report.
In the meantime, while city officials evaluate options, the Recreation Board promises to continue working with the community and Pacific Grove Unified to assess their preferences and concerns about the location of the skate park. Peake said there have been a number of informal discussions with Pacific Grove Unified about a potential district-city collaboration, meaning the proposed skate park would fall on school campus.
The board hopes to identify up to three top site choices by October in conjunction with staff insights. It would then approve recommendations to be submitted to City Council for final approval of the project. Official approval for the skate park would also require incorporation of the California Environmental Quality Act and securing a coastal development permit, among other permits awaiting the final scope and location of the project.
As ideas come to fruition, Hazen encourages community members to publicly voice their support and suggestions, as well as concerns, beginning with this week’s Recreation Board meeting.
“There has been a flood of support so far,” he continued. “As (the project) progresses, it would be good to hear any concerns as well.”
The Thursday Recreation Board meeting begins at 6:00 p.m. It can be accessed virtually at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84112111427.