Pocket residents Demetrius Williams and Eustaquio Lafranco both love to skateboard.
Williams, who has been skating for five years, enjoys the freedom skateboarding gives him. “With this you’re not really required to do anything – you’re required to go out there and have fun, learn as much as you want or as little as you want,” he says.
And Lafranco, who has been skateboarding for the last 10 years, says the skateboard population in the area is steadily growing and although there is now a skate park at Reichmuth Park in South Land Park, it would be beneficial to have more skate parks as an interest in skateboarding continues to grow.
Now with the help of the City of Sacramento, the Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD), Freeport Renovation on the Move (FROM) and other community members are coming together to give skateboarders like Lafranco and Williams another skate park at Argonaut Park in Freeport Manor.
During their initial work on trying to get a local skate park built, the teens were meeting at the Robbie Waters Pocket-Greenhaven Library, where they met Kathi Windheim, president of the Friends of the Pocket-Greenhaven Library. She suggested Argonaut Park as a possible location as it was adjacent to New Technology High School and she knew the school had a group of skateboarders.
Windheim contacted New Tech’s Principal Paula Hanzel, who supported the project. “We’re in a neighborhood where kids need stuff to do, and they need the right stuff to do,” she explains. “And the more we can put in that park for not only my kids, but all the kids in the neighborhood to do, the better off we are.”
Next on board was Darrel Woo, second vice president for SCUSD Board of Education representing District 6, who believes the skate park will be a nice compliment to the workout stations that were put into Argonaut Park a few years ago.
Also on board is Sacramento City Councilman Jay Schenirer representing District 5. “I think anything that we can do to provide positive outlets for young people and safe places for them to be when they’re not in school is a good thing,” Schenirer says of why he supports the project.
And the group received support the of FROM, which according to President Barbara Moore works to provide a healthy way of life for children and teens in the Freeport Manor, South Land Park and Pocket areas. “It’s a need and we have so many kids that like to skate,” she explains. “There’s not (a skate park) that close, so we decided let’s put a skate park over here – we have the space and it would be a great thing.”
Plan in Action
Now with support in place, plans could start for the Argonaut Park skate park.
According to Windheim, as another skate park is being built at McClatchy Park in the Oak Park area, they asked Schenirer if they could be part of the design process for McClatchy so they could design both at the same time to save money, and he agreed.
On March 5, Windheim says a meeting was held at the Evelyn Moore Community Center to begin planning the design of both skate parks. The meeting was lead by Aaron Spohn from Spohn Ranch Skate Parks in Los Angeles, who Windheim says will be designing both parks.
Dennis Day, landscape architect for the City of Sacramento, says Spohn discussed with those at the meeting what was possible for the skate parks. “He led them – there were some adults there as well as high school students – on what they would like to see in their ideal skate park,” he explains. “They got to design and move around templates of skate elements.”
Community skateboarders, including Lafranco and Williams, attended the meeting to give their input on what they would like to see in the skate parks. “He pretty much gave us a piece of paper and a layout of other parks he’d did that were similar, and just said put the pieces where you want them and that’s what we did,” Williams says.
Hanzel says letting the neighborhood kids help design the Argonaut Park skate park is huge. “You want to teach kids to be civically responsible and civically involved, and the sooner you get them involved and have that be a positive experience, the more likely to have that continued throughout their adult life,” she explains. “When you empower, you create positive people and positive people move things.”
Although a design for the McClatchy Park skate park has reportedly been finalized, the design for the Argonaut Park skate park is still in the works.
According to Woo, the concept for Argonaut Park is still conceptual, but they are looking at a design that would create a “low-level stage amphitheater that the kids can skate around” with a pathway around the perimeter. This way, he says the skate park could serve multiple purposes as it could also be used as a stage area for New Tech. “It looks like a plan that will harmonize with the existing facility without taking away the other purposes of the facility,” he adds.
Hanzel says right now New Tech does not have a room where she can fit all of her 300 students at the same time. ” It would be great to have an outdoor space where we could all gather and engage in the things that we now have to do twice,” she says.
And Windheim says they are considering some skateboard-specific elements for the park, such as a stair set with rail and “hubba bank,” a roller, “curved taco” and flat ledge. She says the Argonaut Park skate park will be roughly 5,000 square feet. “We will be smaller than McClatchy Park (skate park), but with many of the same great elements and a different layout,” she adds.
Although plans for the design are in motion, much is still needed to be done in terms of fund raising to build the skate park.
Windheim estimates the Argonaut Park skate park will cost around $120,000 to complete.
According to J.P. Tindell, manager of park planning and development for the City of Sacramento Parks & Recreation Department, the City has set aside $20,000 of Park Impact Fees as “seed funding” for the Argonaut Park skate park
Windheim says they are now in fund raising mode for the rest of what they need. “We’re trying to raise the rest of this money through grants, fundraisers, (and) different community support,” she adds.
In regards to fundraisers, they recently held a rummage sale in Belle Cooledge Park, and are now planning an event at Argonaut Park on Saturday, June 8 from 1-5pm that will feature a jazz band, food, prize drawings and a skateboarding demonstration. Windheim says the event will be funded through an $815 community grant they received from Schenirer’s office.
And they will be launching an online fundraiser where community members can vote for the best skateboarding trick videos on votdo.com. Windheim says from May 15-30 skateboarders can upload their videos to the site. Then visitors to the site can vote for $1 per vote from June 1-30. The most votes in each category, Windheim says, will win skateboarding gear donated by Spohn and Spohn Ranch Skate Parks.
Williams says he is going to be “pretty proud” once the Argonaut Skate Park is built as he will know he had a hand in helping make it happen. He also feels the additional skate parks will help people improve and build a love for skateboarding. “It’s going to be bring a lot more people out there to try to skateboard because every time there is a park, there’s people that see the park and say I want to try and they get out there.”
Moore also believes the new skate park will get more kids interested in skateboarding. “I think it’s going to revitalize the youth out there and make really something positive to bring to them because they need some positive reinforcement in the neighborhood,” she adds.
Lafranco believes the new skate parks may even bring new businesses to the area. He says right now skateboarders in the area have to travel to Elk Grove, Natomas, or downtown for skateboarding supplies. “With all these new skate parks emerging, … it could bring in a new business opportunities for skate shops,” he says.
Donations for the Argonaut Skate Park can be made out to “FROM” and mailed to Barbara Moore, 6013 McLaren Ave., Sacramento 95822. For more information on the Argonaut Skate Park, call Kathi at 392-0101 or e-mail Rosio Ruano in Councilmember Jay Schenirer’s office email@example.com.
Argonaut Park is located on Kitchner Road near Freeport Boulevard.