Green light for McKinleyville skate park

SKATE PARK The McKinleyville Community Services District approved this draft design for a skate park on May 1. The dotted area would be the first phase if funding is not available for the entire park. Humboldt Skatepark Collective photo

Jack Durham
Mad River Union

MCKINLEYVILLE – Construction may begin a year from now on the long-awaited McKinleyville skate park, a project that has been pursued for two decades.

The park would be built at Pierson Park, which may see a variety of other upgrades if the McKinleyville Community Services District is successful in obtaining state grant funds. Those improvements could include a giant solar array, new playground equipment, a half basketball court, public art installations and improved landscaping.

Skate park

Charlie Caldwell of the Humboldt Skatepark Collective said his organization is completing the final engineering for the park and plans to work with the MCSD to obtain construction permits, with the goal of breaking ground next spring and finishing the park by fall 2020.

Although the movement to build a skate park began about 20 years ago, the high price tag of the project has hampered progress. Originally, the park was estimated to cost about $500,000. The cost is now pegged at about $606,000 for a 22,000-square-foot park, with bowls and ramps.

The size of the park will depend on whether the MCSD’s grant application is successful and how much money it receives. However, Caldwell told the MCSD board on May 1 that his organization has $134,000 in the bank. Of that amount, $20,000 is set aside for engineering and permitting cost. That leaves $114,000, which Caldwell said will be used to build the first phase of the park.

That means that even if the MCSD application is unsuccessful, McKinleyville will, at the very least, get a small skate park next year. 

Caldwell said his organization is also pursuing other grants and planning more fundraisers, so additional funds will likely be available for the park.

The draft design of the park shows black concrete with bronze-colored bowls. The entire park is designed with gravity drainage, so no water pumps will be needed.

The MCSD Board of Directors unanimously approved the draft design and agreed to initiate the permitting process.

MCSD Director Mary Burke told Caldwell that she was pleased that the organization was looking at building the project in phases.

Fellow Director Shel Barsanti expressed excitement that the project was coming to fruition. “I just say wow!” Barsanti said. “My grandkids will be thrilled.”

Park grant

The skate park is just one of the projects that the MCSD is trying to obtain funding for. The district is pursuing a full-court press to obtain public input as it prepares an application for a grant from the Statewide Park Development and Community Revitalization Program. Nearly $255 million will be doled out this year alone by the state.

The MCSD is taking public input on what projects the public would like to pursue as it prepares the grant application. The district will hold a public workshop on Saturday, May 18 from 10 a.m. to noon at the McKinleyville Teen & Community Center, 1705 Gwin Rd. On Saturday, June 1, the district will have a booth at Pierson Park during Pony Express Days from noon to 4 p.m. On Thursday, June 13, the district will have a table at Pierson Park during Music in the Park from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Then, on Tuesday, July 9, an evening workshop will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. at the McKinleyville Teen & Community Center.

All this public input will give the district more points in the competitive grant application process.

If the district receives the grant, it hopes to replace and improve flooring and walls  at Azalea Hall and the Activity Center and upgrade kitchen facilities.

Among the playground improvements would be the replacement of playground surfaces with pour-in rubber surfaces, new playground structures, playground components designed for disabled children, a half basketball court, a hydration station, bathroom renovations, public art installations  and landscape improvements.

The district also wants to install a solar panel system that would generate enough juice to power the entire Pierson Park campus.

“It’s an ambitious project,” said Parks & Recreation Direct0r Lesley Frisbee.

MCSD Manager Greg Orsini told the board that preparing the grant application is a time-consuming and  complicated procedure. “The dynamics of this grant are significant,” Orsini said.

“This is a very audacious ask,” he said.

District staff plans to have cost estimates for the various projects completed in July,  and submit the grant application in August.

Azalea Hall lobby

The lobby at Azalea Hall is spartan, with a lot of space, but very little use. But that’s going to change.

The MCSD board voted unanimously May 1 to allow the McKinleyville Senior Center to transform the space  into a warm, cozy usable space where people can lounge on couches or play cards.

The senior center occupies a nearby room, which sometimes becomes crowded. The redesigned lobby area, with couches, chairs and artwork, would provide additional space for seniors and others using Azalea Hall.

‘We’d like it to be more useful and functional,” said Candra Day, the director of the senior center. “We want to be a more welcoming and friendly senior center.”


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