FALLBROOK – A skate park in Fallbrook has been a long time coming. Despite what was written in the June 6 edition of the Fallbrook Village News, there is still a ways to go before it becomes a reality.
Fallbrook Skatepark, Inc was founded in 2003 by Jack Buettner and became a non-profit organization in early 2004. When Buettner passed away shortly thereafter, other board members stepped up to keep his dream alive.
Early efforts of this group were focused on building a skate park at Ingold field. Several factors prevented this dedicated group from achieving their goal and their last attempt died when Fallbrook economically struggled after the fires of October 2007.
In early 2008 a youth initiative, started by St. Peter’s Catholic Church and Faith in Action, identified areas of need pertaining to the youth of Fallbrook. One the four needs identified was a skate park. In 2009, Project Skate Safe grew out of the initiative and later merged with Fallbrook Skatepark Inc. (FSI). By July 2010, a new board was voted in headed by new president Roger Harrell. Harrell, a 15-year veteran of the skateboard industry and former publisher of Skateboarder Magazine had a wealth of knowledge about skate park development and with the board’s help devised a new strategy to accomplish the goals of the organization.
The new group revived the non-profit organization just in time to sign an agreement with the Boys & Girls Club of North County in October 2010 to host a temporary, above ground skate park on the club’s basketball court. “We were really excited about that,” said Michelle Albanna, FSI CFO/secretary, “but for us we knew it would only be temporary and while providing a safe place to skate, was only a first step toward our larger goal of a permanent county skate park.” After one year, the temporary skate park was closed so that the organization’s efforts and funds could be concentrated on a more challenging permanent facility that would allow skateboarders of all ages a safe place to skate.
“The idea of a skate park rarely gets anybody excited other skateboarders,” said Harrell, “and we knew in order to be successful we needed to get the community excited. So we came up with the idea of a skateable art project called the Avocado Bowl.”
In early 2012, FSI presented the “Avocado Bowl” skateable art concept at a CSA 81 meeting but the project had little hope with no suitable county site location identified. Exiting the meeting, dialogue began between Harrell and Vince Ross, president of Fallbrook Village Association, who was interested in the concept and suggested that perhaps it could be built at Jackie Heyneman Park. After several site visits and meetings with key stake holders, the Village Association officially voted and passed the proposal to allow FSI to build the Avocado Bowl in their downtown park in March of this year.
Now with a viable location and the backing of the Fallbrook Village Association, FSI continued to attend monthly County Service (CSA) 81 meetings, presenting cost estimates for the project from world renowned skate park builders Grindline Skateparks. The project is estimated to cost upwards of $130,000. Finding merit in the project, CSA 81 voted and passed a motion at their April 18 meeting to give FSI “matching funds” up to the amount of $125,000 to build the skate park. This means that Fallbrook Skatepark Inc is expected to raise the capital or find in-kind donations of materials, equipment and labor from the community before the CSA 81 funds are freed up. In addition they are requiring additional monies be set aside for annual maintenance, upkeep and the portable toilets which FSI had committed to supply.
At the May 28 Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce meeting, its board of directors unanimously agreed to endorse plans for Fallbrook’s first skate spot in the form of the Avocado Bowl at the Jackie Heyneman Park. “It’s very important for the chamber to take the leadership position we have earned and formally endorse the skate park,” said Charlie Wolk, Chamber board member. “We don’t have to monitor it; we just have to endorse it. Having the chamber’s endorsement will get other community leaders to support the park. I think $125,000-$130,000 is not really much money for recreational activities for people in the community.”
“Fallbrook has a unique opportunity to build a skate spot that will actually be tied to the community’s heritage. Avocado farming has been in this region for over a 100 years and this skateable art project will be enjoyed not only by the skaters but by the residents and tourist alike,” said Harrell.
Fallbrook Skatepark Inc. is a nonprofit 501.3c organization that would like to hear from those who can donate money, services, materials or equipment to see this dream become a reality. They can be reached at (760) 728-1919 or at [email protected]