Next step is for design to go back for planners’ approval
By Nao Braverman
If the Ojai’s skate park is being built for local skateboarders, then the skaters themselves should be involved in critiquing the park’s design, planning commissioners agreed at Wednesday night’s planning meeting.
“It’s been a really long time since I’ve been on a skateboard,” said Commissioner Troy Becker. “I would look to working with the kids in the community and whatever elements that they think are necessary.”
Fortunately Site Design Group staff already had planned to coordinate with Ojai’s youth.
The preliminary design presented to both the Planning Commission and Parks and Recreation Department Wednesday night had been scrutinized by a number of local skateboarders during two workshops on Sept. 13 and Sept. 22, where participants told Site Design Group staff what they wanted in their park.
The design they came up with was a transition-style park with street plaza-style features. A transitional park allows skateboarders to skate their way between various elements, within the park, explained Jeff Gibson, a Site Design Group representative.
Ojai skaters also wanted features that you might find in the street so it feels like they are skating a plaza or some other urban scape.
As an in-ground park, it is designed to begin 1 foot below grade, so skateboarders would skate down into the approximately 12,000-square-foot area.
While planning commissioners were interested in incorporating landscaping, Gibson explained that skateboarders wanted to get as many elements in the space they were given as they possibly could. Landscaping could be added to the surrounding areas to provide some shading for spectators, however.
With Ojai’s style and aesthetics in mind, the proposed design includes an entry wall with a community-donated art piece.
As the park is below grade, spectators entering the park would get an optimal view from above as they walk in, said Gibson.
Sasha Wolfe, the only voice of dissent, brought a bag of fresh vegetables to protest the loss of more than half of the community garden with the skate park’s expansion.
Skate Ojai member Wendy Hilgers assured her, however, that she and some skaters would be glad to start a new and improved community garden after construction of the park.
The existing garden could use a fresh start, she told commissioners.
Bob Daddi, another member of Skate Ojai added that the entire area surrounding the community garden needed to be cleaned up, and that the skate park remodeling would offer a good opportunity to do so.
Commissioners agreed. Always concerned about fencing, the planning commissioners said they would be in a better position to comment on the skate park barrier when they had a better idea of how it would be used. That depends on how the park will be managed and whether it will be supervised, said Becker.
But such decisions will have to wait until the skate park’s design is reviewed by the City Council.
“I think what we need is a sub-committee of kids,” said Commissioner John Mirk. But Gibson said they already had the whole skateboarding community involved.
One local skateboarder attended the planning meeting to urge Gibson to include one popular element that wasn’t in the design presented.
Local residents can review the design by visiting the company’s web site at sitedesigngroup.com.