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City ramps up park plans

Posted: November 2, 2008 5:40 p.m.
Updated: January 4, 2009 5:00 a.m.

A local skateboarder grinds the lip of a bowl at the Santa Clarita skate park in this Augusr 2006 photo.

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The great debate over where to skate takes a kickflip out of the Santa Clarita Valley later this month, as city officials close the current skatepark and prepare for a bigger and better one.

Earlier this year the issue invaded City Hall as skaters challenged the plan to close the current park. Some proposed the city spend money on a temporary park that could operate while the new one was under construction.

But the price of such a proposal was steep. Instead, city officials were able to keep the existing park open for several more months while construction moved ahead on the new one.

Excursions to parks outside the SCV are planned while the park is closed.

The new skatepark will be part of a $25 million upgrade to the Santa Clarita Sports Complex at 20880 Centre Pointe Parkway.

The upgrade also includes a new gymnasium and improvements to existing facilities, courts and parking, said Rick Gould, Santa Clarita's director of parks, recreation and community services.

Although the park was originally scheduled to close in August, "We were able to keep the old skatepark three months longer," Gould said.

"We're about five months into the construction process now," Gould said. "A large portion of the grading is now complete. There is still a lot more work to do."

City officials expect most of the Sports Complex improvements - including the new 40,000-square-foot skatepark - to open in early 2009. The gym will open later in the year.

Not having a temporary skatepark is OK with Mike Riederer, owner of Hydro Skateboards in Saugus.

In February, Riederer and hundreds of local skaters attended a City Council meeting to challenge the plan to close the existing skatepark.

"Rick Gould and his staff have had regular meetings with myself and Dan Bernardino to discuss options during the down time," Riederer said in an e-mail.

Each of these alternatives was then shared with Santa Clarita Valley skaters via the social networking site MySpace, Riederer said.

"The idea of a temporary park for the short amount of time that the skatepark will be closed did not make sense for many reasons," he said.

Hosting excursions to other skateparks seems to be the favorite idea with valley skaters.

"The city has done more than could be expected," Riederer said. "I personally believe that they are committed to getting the new skatepark open as soon as possible."

The existing park will close Nov. 15.

Among the upgrades planned for the Sports Complex is attaining the environmentally friendly certification known as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

"When you have a building that operates all day long, having a LEED certification reduces energy costs," Gould said.

He expects the project to use recycled materials, as well as mechanisms to lower electrical and lighting costs, to make the complex environmentally friendly.

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