Baker takes control of skate park construction after concerns arise
By Mary M. Long
The dream team arrived and started shooting the concrete for the Ojai Skate Park early Tuesday morning. This is the same team that built the skate facility for the X games and, most recently, the Maloof Money Cup, which is now under construction in Orange County.
Joe Ciaglio, owner of California Skate Parks, has donated pool coping for the rim of the 9.5-foot-deep skate bowl at the rear of the park. “This is no small thing,” said the foreman Sergio Acosta, smiling. This coping was developed by Ciaglio specifically for skateboarding and is the same surface they installed in famed skateboarder Tony Hawk’s home, state-of-the-art facility.
A snag in the project unraveled this week resulting in an urgent on-site meeting Wednesday morning between volunteer construction liaison Chet Hilgers, representing Skate Ojai with Bob Daddi and Chris Hilgers, city engineer, Glen Hawks, Public Works director Mike Culver, Earth Systems representatives Rick Beard and Todd Trandy, Parks and Recreation director Dale Sumersille, Councilwoman Betsy Clapp, former City Clerk Carlon Strobel and foreman Acosta. The Hilgers had been asking for an accounting of the Skate Park construction funds for some time, which allegedly had not been provided by the city under Kersnar’s management. As additional construction expenses had been submitted, there was some confusion as to what money was available and what the current accounting was. The change work order involved additional drainage components and permeable fill soil to ensure the integrity of the construction and the longevity of the park. Gravel has been added to the bottom of the skate bowl for additional drainage, as well as the Earth System’s engineer calling for a permeable soil mix to replace the hydrophobic native soil to backfill the retaining walls. This will protect the walls so they will not be exposed to the pressure of the contraction and expansion of clay soil.
“The purpose here is to build the best skate park possible,” said Chet Hilgers, who was adamant that the basic structure not be compromised from the foundation up.
Hilger’s query to city officials when they tried to economize on these necessary components was, “Where’s the money?” This meeting led to an urgent Thursday morning meeting at City Hall where Ojai Skate Park representatives Chet Hilgers and Bob Daddi met with the interim city manager John Baker in closed session to discuss the management of the park construction. According to Hilgers the meeting went extremely well and he was very happy with the new interim city manager. “He said he will be the Skate Park project manager from now on and will take responsibility for the project,” said Hilgers, happily. He went on to say that Baker reassured them that there were no issues regarding money for the Skate Park based on his preliminary review, and that an accounting will be released soon. He claimed that Baker wanted to make it really clear that the Skate Park would be completed and done on time. The official Ojai Skate Park opening and ribbon cutting has been confirmed for Ojai Day, Oct. 16.