Skate park in Washington neighborhood set to get improvements, cleanups this year

Thanks to some “bugging” from a local nonprofit, the Michael K. Green Skate Park in the 14th Street Park in the Washington neighborhood will see some new improvements after Long Beach’s Parks and Recreation Commission on Thursday approved a plan for some community work to start next month.

The commission received an $8,300 donation from Sk8 Dojo, a local nonprofit, to add cement pathways at the skate park on top of existing dirty pathways along the park’s skate ramp and fences. The donations must still be approved by the City Council, but Park and Recreation and Marine Department Partnerships Officer Alma Castro said that will likely happen in April with the cement pathways to be paved in the summer.

Existing holes in the skate park’s ramp will also be repaired, which will cause a temporary closure of the park from March 8 until March 12, Castro said.

In addition to the updates and repairs, the commission also allowed the nonprofit to conduct quarterly cleanups around the perimeter of the park, which stretches from Pacific and Pine avenues on 14th Street. The cleanups are slated to continue until the end of 2021 , according to Castro.

Sk8 Dojo founder and executive director Victoria Hernandez said that people asked how she was able to push the improvements through the city’s park and recreation department.

“I just kept bugging them,” she said.

Castro said that she was happy to have Hernandez use their new Field and Court Improvements Toolkit, a comprehensive overview of steps, roles and responsibilities, and inventory of available sites for ongoing needed improvements. The toolkit, which launched in November, was created to make it easier for local groups, such as Sk8 Dojo, to work with the city to make community-led improvements throughout the city.

Hernandez said that she had been conducting cleanups informally beforehand with only a few people, from picking up trash to pressure washing surfaces last summer. But a month later, she said the area became littered again.

While Hernandez lives in the Zaferia neighborhood, she’s chosen the Michael K. Green Skate Park as her “home park,” where she skates alongside youth and adults from the community. She sees skating as a form of “recreation therapy”—offering benefits such as exercise and socializing.

Other local groups such as the Washington Neighborhood Association and Habitat for Humanity have had similar cleanups in the neighborhood.

Hernandez has submitted the work order for the ramp repair, and hopes to continue mobilizing and engaging residents there.

“What we really wanted to do was take pride and ownership of the skate park,” she said.

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Crystal Niebla is the West Long Beach reporter through the Report for America program. Philanthropic organizations pledged to cover the local donor portion of her grant-funded position with the Post. If you want to support Crystal's work, you can donate to her Report For America position at lbpost.com/support.
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