By Logan Hall
Skaters and proponents of the Ojai Skate Park may no longer be in the dark when it comes to lighting at the park. Skate Ojai, with a big boost from stuntman Dave England, has decided to bypass the city, and raise money to put up lights at the Skate Park. England says he will donate $20,000 to Skate Ojai, a 501c3 nonprofit organization, which will cover a third of the $60,000 total cost of installing the lights.
“The $60 grand will cover everything, including the installation,” said England in an interview. “We’re challenging the community to come up with the other $40,000 by the end of the year.”
The plan calls for three lights that could illuminate the park after the sun goes down, giving skaters the opportunity to use the park after sundown. Skate Ojai had prepared for the future possibility of lighting at the Skate Park by running electrical conduits underneath the cement. The conduits are ready for wiring to hook up to lights, along with a separate conduit for a possible webcam, so according to Chet Hilgers, president of Skate Ojai, there would be no physical disturbance to the Skate Park during the process.
Hilgers says they want to handle the lights in a similar way the Ojai Valley Tennis Club handled the tennis courts at lower Libbey Park. “Our plan is to raise the funds privately nstall the lights, then hand it over to the city,” said Hilgers. “We’re trying to get this done sooner rather than later.”
“We’ve waited long enough for the Skate Park,” added England. “Let’s not wait for the lights. It’s time to fast-track this thing to happening.”
Everyone involved stressed the importance of having lights up, especially during the shorter days of winter. Many using the park are kids who have school during the week and don’t have much daylight left to practice their sport. “You can skate the park after it starts getting dark, but it’s sketchy,” said local skater, 17-year-old Kevan Harris. “We’d be a lot better off if there were lights.”
England says that winter isn’t the only time when lights would come in handy though. “It gets so hot during the summer,” he said. “This would give kids a chance to beat the heat and skate after the sun goes down. We could get so much more use out of the park all year round.”
Hilgers says that the lights are not stadium lights, but more like those used at a tennis court. He says they want to minimize light pollution while still giving skaters plenty of lighting in the park. “We also want to take a greener approach,” said Hilgers. “We’re looking at technology that utilizes solar or battery power. There’s enough money in the budget to cover these options.”
England says that now is the time for someone to step up and put down the rest of the money for the project. “This could be a big tax write-off for anyone who can help come up with the other $40 grand,” he said.
For more information on donating to lighting up the Ojai Skate Park, contact Skate Ojai at 646-3774.