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Cities begin discussing skate park

April 22, 2002

June Casagrande

NEWPORT-MESA -- Support is growing to create a skateboard park for

Newport Beach and Costa Mesa, despite some residents' reluctance to see

one built too close to their homes, one official said.

A joint meeting of the two cities' parks commissions on Tuesday drew

close to 20 people who came out in support of finding a place to build a

skateboard park.

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On Thursday, Newport Beach City Manager Homer Bludau met with Costa

Mesa City Manager Alan Roeder to discuss the possibility of building a

park for skateboarders from both cities.

"I think the ingredient we're starting to see in both cities is the

commitment of the city councils and of the residents to create a skate

park," said Marc Franklin, a member of Newport Beach's Parks, Beaches

and Recreation Commission and a longtime supporter of creating a

skateboard park.

Officials warn, though, that it is too early to say whether a

skateboard park will ever come to be or which locations are being

considered.

"What we had was just a preliminary discussion to find a site

acceptable to both communities," Bludau said of his meeting with Roeder.

"It's important to note that, while this is something we're working on,

this is not one of our top priorities at this time."

Neither Franklin nor Bludau would name any possible sites, but

Franklin said that sites in both cities are under consideration.

Many residents have opposed the idea of building a skateboard park,

fearing the facility would attract problems such as vandalism that some

associate with a skateboarding subculture. Others have spoken up to

defend the sport and its participants, decrying such unfair stereotypes

and insisting that the sport deserves the same respect as basketball or

any other activity.

"I think any physical activities that keep our kids engaged and out of

harm's way are great," Franklin said. "We provide so many different

sports as a city for the youth and here's a sport with a tremendous

demand and no city-provided outlet."

Franklin said it's likely that Newport Beach's parks commission will

revive its defunct skateboard park subcommittee. Bludau said that staffs

of both cities are gathering information about where a park might be

built.

* June Casagrande covers Newport Beach. She may be reached at (949)

574-4232 or by e-mail at o7 june.casagrande@latimes.comf7 .

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