It was over a year ago that the Oakland/Emeryville border DIY Skateboard area referred to as “the spot” met its fate at the hands of Caltrans. Since then, no noticeable progress has been made on the pending development that Caltrans used to justify the spots’ need for destruction (efficiency has never been their biggest strength) and the area has resumed being a dumping ground and homeless encampment. While the country promotes keeping kids active and fighting the growing obesity epidemic, providing the resources for doing so has proved elusive unless you fit in the traditional american sports landscape. Meanwhile, local skaters have taken matters into their own hands and have been hard at work dreaming up their next move. This time, they have the muscle of longtime Emeryville City Council member Nora Davis and Public Works Director Maurice Kaufman to guide them through the process of doing this legitimately.
The Skateboarders of E’ville and its surrounding communities have longed for a place to call their own for decades and may have finally found it in the awkwardly built/little used Joseph Emery Park which borders the CVS parking lot and the Pixar campus. Not only will this provide local skaters with an established skating spot, it could be a boost for local establishments and even draw some curious spectators. The city has contracted the well respected Wormhoudt Inc. to work with local skaters to help bring this dream to life. The city held its second workshop last week to solicit feedback on Wormhoudt’s initial round of concepts that featured a snake bowl, “Dragon Back” feature, and various grinding rails and banks that integrate the parks’ bike path and existing boulders. The skate community in attendance offered feedback and presented some of their own ideas that Wormhoudt will be tasked with integrating into their next phase of plans. Their challenge is to create a balanced yet distinct park that will satisfy a broad range of skater abilities and meet the discerning tastes of the east bay skater population. It should be noted that there is a mandate that there be no net loss of trees as a result of the park’s construction.
$250K of the still unknown total costs have already been procured through Emeryville’s share of the East Bay Regional Park District’s Measure WW Park Bond. An additional $50K has been allotted by the public art committee for an art piece that is expected to be integrated as a feature of the park. The next step in the approval process will be to have a 3rd design workshop by the end of February where Wormhoudt will present its revised plan and solicit another round of skater feedback. The Design will then need to be approved by the Bicycle and Pedestrian advisory and the Parks and Recreation advisory committees. If approved, the designs would be submitted to the City Council for approval on April 2nd. It’s unclear if it will be met with any opposition by local businesses or community groups. If things proceed as planned, construction could start by the end of this year and be completed by Summer 2014. For east bay skaters, it’s been a long & difficult journey and this date can’t come quick enough.
Please note conceptual renderings from this initial draft are not final.
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