The Cambrian

Vandalism poses a challenge at Cambria’s skate park

A large hole has been left in one of the wooden ramps at Cambria’s skate park. It is scheduled for repair in the coming week.
A large hole has been left in one of the wooden ramps at Cambria’s skate park. It is scheduled for repair in the coming week.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, or so the saying goes. But the converse is also true: If it is broke, do fix it.

A couple of cases in point:

There was a nasty pothole on Burton Drive just west of Ardath Drive that had been there for a few weeks — and was only getting worse. I put in a request with the county and was told road crews would be out there the next day to fix it.

They were.

A giant eucalyptus tree that loomed over Main Street across from The Cambrian offices looked like it might topple onto the road at some point. A very old, very large oak tree behind our offices had done just that during a storm a few weeks ago, barely missing my car in the process.

Needless to say, I was a little worried that the same thing might happen with that eucalyptus across the street … and was gratified to see tree trimmers taking some aggressive action to cut back its branches a little more than a week ago.

Which brings me to the next project on the list of things to do: Cambria Skatepark is in need of repairs.

I drove by the other day and found four kids using the park, but they couldn’t use one of the wooden ramps — at least not safely — thanks to a gaping hole smack-dab in the middle. One of the kids pointed to a spot in the pavement where there had once been a “grinding” rail. It wasn’t there anymore, he said, because it had been stolen. There’s also some metal plating at the top of the ramp that shows some separation from the structure.

Repairs planned

Carlos Mendoza, Cambria Community Services District facilities and resources manager, said Monday, May 8, that repair work at the park is already scheduled to begin next Monday or Tuesday.

Mendoza attributed the damage to vandalism, which he said is “a common thing at a skate park. We just don’t have the staff to be out there all the time from dawn to dusk.”

Mendoza said most vandalism consists of graffiti and other minor damage that can be taken care of in a couple of hours. He said the district installed a new railing and did some painting and water seal work about a month ago. But the recent damage was more severe: Mendoza estimated it would cost $3,000 to repair.

We just don’t have the staff to be out there (at the skate park) all the time from dawn to dusk.

Carlos Mendoza, CCSD facilities and resources manager

Mendoza said he broached the issue at a recent meeting of the CCSD’s Parks, Recreation and Open Space (PROS) committee and said repairs to the park were taking away staff time from other projects.

Does that mean the skate park could be closed? Mendoza said that’s a decision for CCSD directors to make.

Steve Kniffen, a youth sports advocate who heads the PROS committee, said, “If it’s deteriorated to the point that it’s unsafe, that puts the onus on us. We’re definitely going to have to do something. If it’s that big of a safety issue, they may have to shut it down.”

Jason Buhl, who helped design and build some of the original ramps at the park, said it was originally a project of the now-defunct youth center.

“Then when the youth center fell apart, they were going to just let the skate park go, and I went to the (CCSD) general manager at the time and asked her to let me run it, which I did for about five years and then I burned out,” Buhl said.

He said the CCSD, which donated the land for the park, took over management of it five or six years ago.

Youth recreation

Aaron Linn, general manager at Linn’s Fruit Bin, was at the skate park when I stopped by. He said activities such as skateboarding and cycling — which he works to promote — provide an outlet for kids who don’t feel comfortable with more traditional sports.

Such activites, he said, “get kids and keep them off computers — not that computers are bad.” But, he added, outdoor activities are worth pursuing, too, and “not every kid fits into the general sports like baseball, football and basketball.”

Linn is providing a different sort of outdoor alternative with a cycling initiative for youth. Each Wednesday at 3 p.m., he meets with a handful of kids and takes them out for rides that last about 90 minutes, also giving them some experience at fixing bikes at the Cambria Bike Kitchen. He’s taken them out on Santa Rosa Creek road and hopes to do some trail riding, as well.

“I’m going to need another adult because it’s looking right now like we’ll have different levels” of riders, he said, adding that he hopes to expand the rides to twice or three times a week during the summer.

But what about the skate park? Will it still be available for kids who prefer skating to hoops or baseball? Here’s hoping it will be. Time will tell.