Twelve-year-old skateboarder Jason Landau stood at the edge of the giant ten-foot-deep skate pool at Santa Monica’s new skatepark, eagerly waiting for his chance to take a ride.
But Landau was among a large group of avid skateboarders — including professionals and Z-boys, considered the pioneers of the modern-style of the sport —who all wanted to be among the first to test the features of the new skatepark.
When Landau, who was one of the youngest skaters in the group, finally got his opportunity to ride the deep skate pool, he said he just went for it.
“You just try to get a chance whenever you can,” said Landau, of Mar Vista, who has skateboarded since he was five years old.
“The pool is my favorite because it has a nice cement coping.”
Landau and hundreds of other visitors flocked to Memorial Park, 1401 Olympic Blvd., Santa Monica, Friday, June 17th, to participate in the grand opening ceremony for The Cove, the city’s first skatepark.
The Cove, a 20,000-square-foot concrete facility for skating and biking, is named after the legendary Santa Monica surf spot that many “Dogtown and Z-boy” skaters frequented in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
The skatepark facility offers a variety of features, including ramps, bowls, stairs, a skate pool with tile and coping, an over-vertical bowl, and the Douglas Park rail, a park stair rail that was made famous in 1990s skate videos and saved from demolition.
Regular operating hours of the skatepark began Saturday, June 18th. The Cove is scheduled to be open to the public weekdays during the school year, September to June, from 3 p.m. to dusk, and during summer weekdays and year-round on weekends from 11 a.m. to dusk.
Skatepark users must be at least six years of age, pay an annual registration fee, and have either a day use pass or a skatepark quarterly pass.
The maximum capacity of the skatepark is 60 skaters at one time.
Construction of the $500,000 skatepark was finished in mid-May, said Brett Horner, Santa Monica City Parks and Community Facility Planning senior analyst.
The design of The Cove is the result of an extensive skatepark survey and input from skaters and bikers of all ages. When riding at the skatepark for the first time, some skaters were quick to offer their approval.
“It’s killer,” said Tim Trimble, also known as T-Bone, who is a Santa Monica skater with 30 years of skating behind him. “You won’t see a bowl that big in any city park.”
Several city officials were also in attendance at the grand opening to celebrate the completion of an effort years in the making to provide a skating facility in the community.
Santa Monica mayor pro tem Herb Katz cut the ribbon, signifying the official opening of the skatepark.
“It all started at The Cove, and that’s why it’s fitting that it’s here,” Katz said. “We’re going to create history with this beautiful park.”
Santa Monica Councilman Richard Bloom said the city effort to create a new skatepark began several years ago when youths in the community lobbied city officials to provide a skating facility.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Bloom said. “We knew that we wanted to have a skatepark and over time we were able to find the resources and do it the right way.”
Many others who came out to the opening ceremony also spoke about the significance of finally having a local facility for skating and biking enthusiasts.
One longtime skateboarder who knows what it’s like without a local skatepark and had to resort to skating in empty backyard swimming pools in the 1970s, is original Z-boy member Chris Cahill.
“We were hunting for pools,” Cahill said of the Z-boys trying to find areas to skate. “We’d do anything to do it.
“Now the kids have a park to come to and have a good time. This is good for the kids and it will keep them off the streets.”
Another Z-boy member, Nathan Pratt, said The Cove skatepark will provide young skaters an opportunity to improve their skills by riding in a high-quality facility.
“This really allows kids to be much better skateboarders,” Pratt said. “They can skate every day in an A-plus facility.
“This is world-class right here.”
Richard Jefferson, 24, a San Francisco professional skateboarder sponsored by Maui & Sons, said The Cove will help make a difference in the lives of young skaters by influencing them to take part in a constructive activity.
“This is a positive thing for the community,” said Jefferson, who has skated for 11 years. “A lot of kids don’t have the opportunity to enjoy this so they turn to other things.
“This skatepark can change a lot of kids’ lives because it gives them the opportunity to do things positive.”
Other skaters at the opening ceremony were just happy to now be able to skate in a local spot instead of having to drive to other towns for a skatepark.
“We finally have our own park,” said a professional Santa Monica skateboarder known as Caviar. “Now we won’t have to plan our days around skating anymore.”
Santa Monica’s new skatepark certainly seemed to meet the approval of skateboarders at the opening ceremony, and if the facility’s first-day attendance is any sign, skaters are sure to spend plenty of time riding The Cove.
“I’ve been waiting for this park and now that it’s here I’ll be here every day that I don’t have to work,” Trimble said.