East Palo Alto breaks ground on skate park

August 5, 2011 4:11:51 PM PDT
The City of East Palo Alto will break ground today on a project designed to move young people away from violence on the streets to shredding concrete at a skate park, according to city officials.

A ceremony for a 5,000-square-foot temporary skateboarding center at Bell Street Park will begin at 1:30 p.m., while plans are under way for the East Palo Alto Skateboarding Center, city spokeswoman Marie McKenzie said.

The final center, which is tentatively scheduled to open later this month, will measure about 15,000 to 18,000 square feet, McKenzie said. Vice Mayor Laura Martinez and Councilman Ruben Abrica have spearheaded construction efforts.

"It allows our youth to have a public space that they can occupy, where they can gather in plain view and engage in a healthy activity," East Palo Alto Mayor Carlos Romero said.

The skate park was created to prevent youth violence and to provide children and teenagers with a healthy and fun alternative to gang membership.

"It does get some of our kids off the streets and into street-style skateboarding," he said.

About $70,000 from hotel tax revenue and the Park In Lieu fund will be allocated for the skateboarding center, he said. The Tony Hawk Foundation, created by professional skateboarder Tony Hawk, will also provide a planning grant, McKenzie said.

With the number of skateboarders in the city, McKenzie said she is confident the skate park will be popular among young people.

"It's an activity where they can be from dawn to dusk, and it's a place to call their own," she said.

The groundbreaking ceremony will take place at 1:30 p.m. at Bell Street Park, near University Avenue and Bell Street.