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Filner Promises To Help City Heights Build Skate Park

New San Diego Mayor Bob Filner called his appearance Thursday at a rally for a skate park in City Heights one of his "first official acts."

Jorge Robles shows off his skateboarding skills in front of Cherokee Point Elementary School before joining a rally for a formal skate park in City Heights.

Special Feature Speak City Heights

Speak City Heights is a media collaborative aimed at amplifying the voices of residents in one of San Diego’s most diverse neighborhoods. (Read more)

Filner ran on a neighborhoods-first campaign, saying he would redistribute development and infrastructure dollars from downtown to the city's outer neighborhoods. Now in office, he's turning City Heights' years-long fight for a skate park into a poster child for that platform.

"I was just elected by the people of neighborhoods who were tired of not getting things they have deserved while downtown gets hundreds of millions of dollars, and we're going to change that," Filner told a crowd of mostly teenagers. "We are going to bring things into this neighborhood that you deserve and we may as well start with a skate park."

Skaters in the neighborhood have long said they need a formal place to skate, citing peers who have been hit by cars while skating through the dense, urban neighborhood. They also say a skate park would help fill a shortage of park space in the community.

The youth and adult community organizers have identified three locations for a skate spot: a pending mini park on Central Avenue, a dirt lot in Park De La Cruz and the Copley Family YMCA grounds, which the YMCA could vacate once a larger facility opens nearby. All are owned by the city.

"Guess what, I'm the mayor of this city," Filner said after giving a thumbs-up to the teens for choosing city-owned properties. "I can work with you to make sure we get that site."

"We have a budget in the City of San Diego of $3 billion," Filner added. "That's a lot of money, so if we can't find the money that is needed we should pack up, because we can do this."

Filner then led the teens in chanting, "Skate se puede," a riff on the Spanish phrase "Si, se puede" (or "Yes, we can") coined by Cesar Chavez. The slogan has since been adopted by progressive political candidates and their supporters.

Scott Reese, former assistant director of parks and recreation, told KPBS's Tom Fudge full-size skate parks with facilities for staff could cost $3.5 to $5.5 million. A 22,000-square-foot skate park in Logan Heights cost $1.4 million in 2004. The City Heights group is looking to reduce costs by building near existing recreation buildings.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Scott Reese's title. It has been updated.

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Avatar for user 'laplayaheritage'

laplayaheritage | December 10, 2012 at 1:06 p.m. ― 4 years, 2 months ago

MidCityCAN San Diego Mayor Bob Filner endorses the City Heights skate park at a Neighborhood Rally on December 6, 2012.

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Avatar for user 'adamward'

adamward | December 10, 2012 at 2:25 p.m. ― 4 years, 2 months ago

The head of the Tony Hawk foundation had some great comments re: the price of a skatepark:
"On average, skateparks cost about $40 per square foot to design and build. This figure can fluctuate quite a bit depending on regional and project characteristics. Prevailing wage, design-build allowance, site conditions, scale, and terrain design are a few of the major cost factors.

With nearly a decade of experience studying skatepark development, I have never heard of a skatepark costing more than 5-million dollars.

My fear is that Scott Reese's comment is establishing a position of resistance before fully exploring the need and the opportunities. A skatepark in Mid-City IS important and deserves a full investigation. Exaggerating the obstacles—whether by design or accident—is a grave disservice to the community's youth."

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Avatar for user 'adamward'

adamward | December 10, 2012 at 5:10 p.m. ― 4 years, 2 months ago

Peter Whitley, who CURRENTLY works as programs director at The Tony Hawk Foundation said: "If you budget in preliminarily at $40 per square foot, you are going to
end up with a pretty kick-ass skate park" (that would put
the total budget at around $408,000 for 10,200 square feet -- depending on the final site chosen.)

Why are Scott Reese's quotes still in this story?

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Avatar for user 'Megan Burks'

Megan Burks, KPBS Staff | December 10, 2012 at 5:29 p.m. ― 4 years, 2 months ago

Scott Reese commented on the cost of building a skate park in San Diego during his tenure as the assistant director of parks and recreation, the department that develops and maintains recreations facilities for the City of San Diego. The information is still relevant.

Thanks for your feedback.

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