When Nipomo’s skateboarders want to practice their tricks, they drag bags of cement, pieces of plywood and whatever other refuse they can find to the barren foundation of the old recreation center off Frontage Road and build makeshift ramps themselves.
When they return the next day, the ramps have been dismantled by members of the homeless population who also use the burned-down center as an encampment. So the skaters start again.
Now, a community effort is underway to give Nipomo’s skaters a permanent park of their own.
“All sports are pretty much represented in Nipomo,” Slater said. “There are fields for pretty much every sport you need. But skaters are treated like outsiders and not really in the mainstream, even though the things they are doing, they are the same as any athlete.”
Nipomo is one of the only towns in the area without a skate park, Slater said, noting it has a population of about 20,000 people, three elementary schools, a middle school and two high schools.
“I’ve seen kids as young as seventh grade getting on the bus by themselves to go out to the San Luis Obispo skate park,” he said. “I know I wouldn’t want my seventh-grader doing that, but there aren’t many other options for them.”
The idea for a skate park has long been floated at the county level, but was waylaid in recent years as the larger master plan for Nipomo Community Park faced legal resistance from residents concerned about water use and growth in town.
Now the plan has finally cleared its last legal hurdle, and individual changes at the park — like the skating area — can begin.
The skate park has already been designed for free by Wormhoudt Inc., which also designed the San Luis Obispo and Los Osos skate parks.
The design calls for a roughly10,000-square-foot concrete skate park next to the Nipomo Community Library (at the Tefft Street entrance to the community park). It would feature ramps, stairs and rails, as well as three bowls of different sizes.
All the community has to do now is raise the money to build it.
The park is estimated to cost about $1 million, Slater said. Part of that could be funded through grants or county support, he said, but a large portion will have to be donated by the community.
So far, Nipomo has raised about $600 via a T-shirt drive, and $720 through a GoFundMe page. The crowdfunding page has a goal of $20,000.
Slater said he and others are in the process of reaching out to community members and groups to help spread the word for the necessity of the park and to garner donations and support. Eventually, he hopes the park will be the start of more recreational opportunities for Nipomo.
“In Nipomo we love our kids, but unless you are on a team or you own a horse, there’s just not much to do,” he said. “I’m hoping this will be the tip of the iceberg in bringing more things for the kids and the community to do.”