Skaters' Paradise Nears Completion In City Heights After Youth-Led Campaign
The job of Kanten Russell is both work and play. The pro-skater-turned-park designer is helping to plan and test an upcoming skate park in San Diego’s City Heights neighborhood that's fit for newbies and veterans alike.
Russell, who works for design consulting firm Stantec, said a number of the improvements at Park De La Cruz Neighborhood Park were proposed by the area's youth.
"Embankments and the railings and stairs, some of the transitional ramps, and then we’ve got a bowl in the back we’re doing," Russell said, referring to a pool-like basin that reaches 9 feet deep. "So a lot of those all came out of things that really kind of showed up on their wishlist of what they’d really like to ride."
The park comes six years after City Heights-area youth pushed for a safe space to skate. It connects to a smaller skate plaza, also the product of the teens' efforts, which is located across a pedestrian bridge that hovers over the Interstate-15.
Skateboarder and City Heights resident Terry Stanley was 17 years old when he joined the cause led by the nonprofit Mid City Community Advocacy Network's youth council. He's now 23 with a 2-year-old son. He said the years-long process, which wasn't without setbacks, demonstrated that young people are eager to engage with their community if given the chance.
"I think it's the fact that young people have a mind set already to make changes, it's just being able to be in a space where adults and others view us as equals and allow us to express how we really feel, which Mid City CAN did that," said Stanely, now a youth organizer with the group.
Jeff Justus, technical principal for Schmidt Design Group, which partnered with Stantec on the project, said the skate park could open before the end of the year. It's part of a larger $15-million renovation in the area.
Another skate park is under construction in Linda Vista.