Beneath a gray and foreboding sky, Carlsbad, California city officials and hundreds of parents and children gathered near the fire station on May 8 to inaugurate the city’s newest recreational facility. The Carlsbad Skatepark finally opened after a long and difficult process that initially pitted skaters against the politicians, but ultimately brought the two groups together.
Skateparks are a controversial topic in any city that hasn’t had one. And while Carlsbad has a rich history in this regard, the last skatepark hereàƒ,à'Mike McGill’s ramp park of the late 80sàƒ,à'closed almost a decade ago. On the very same lot where McGill’s stood, history was made in 1976 when the world’s first skatepark, Sparks Carlsbad, introduced this new type of recreational facility. Like McGill’s ramps, the concrete banks and bowls of Sparks are long-gone. But ironically, just across the canyon from that hallowed ground stands the newest skatepark in the world, and this one isn’t subject to the economic misfortune that those were. The new Carlsbad Skatepark is public and permanent. Getting the city to fund a 230,000-dollar, 15,000-square-foot free concrete park was no simple task, and the local skaters are to be credited for that. They worked for years petitioning and appealing to the powers that be, and finally turned around the political machine that just a few years ago outlawed skateboarding and contributed to the closing of Danny Way’s XYZ Skate Supply shop in its downtown district.
The skaters of Carlsbad worked with park designer Kevin Thatcher and came up with a triple-bowl design that includes transitions, flat banks, stairs, a rail, a pyramid, various ledges, and even a small beginners’ section. Like most parks, this one has its flaws. But by visiting the site throughout the construction process, the skaters were able to influence and alter the design as problems aroseàƒ,à'design elements that looked fine on paper, but would certainly suck if actually built. And so it was built. And so it was opened.