By Chris Johnston
Four wheels and one goal. The guys behind the new Marin City skate park intend to overcome the opposition to bring unity to the community. The skate park, which was constructed on an old tennis court across from the freeway off ramp and a shopping center currently sits empty, with a locked gate surrounded by a tall fence. Brand new ramps and rails sitting un-skated because of a lack of understanding on a few community leaders’ parts. Months of manual labor and fundraising went into constructing the park on a tennis court that sat unused for 10 years. One of the poles originally intended to hold the net for the tennis court was even adapted into a pole jam for skaters to ride. Until now local kids have been skating in parking lots and the streets around Marin City, with no safe place away from traffic, and no surfaces as smooth as those of the tennis court. This skate park will double as an art park, giving local kids a place to express themselves and learn to be creative in a constructive environment. Local artists and skateboarders have offered up their services to local youth by offering free lessons and equipment for them to use. Below is an interview with Matt Field, owner of Rasa Libre skateboards, and skateboard instructor at Proof Lab in Mill Valley.
CJ: What’s the goal of this skate park?
MF: I think the goal with the 100-block Marin City housing was to bring some transformation to the park here that had some amazing grounds for skateboarding. There were some tennis courts here that were constructed about ten years ago and there hasn’t been a net since. On the tennis court two people are able to occupy the court for a couple hours. And these tennis courts were never being used…but with a skate park there’s such a young community around here that needs some direction and some older influences to kind of open up the doors to new ideas and new activities like skateboarding, which is definitely here to stay, and it’s a young kid’s sport, but it’s also ageless. It opens up tons of doors to creativity and athletic ability.
CJ: What would you say is the main thing standing in the way of this park being open is at this point?
MF: There are a couple powers that be that have some say that kind of look at us as outsiders coming into their community and there might not be an interest for it right away, but we’re here to try and engage kids. I’m offering up my services personally to bring skateboards down and offer skateboard lessons to the beginners. There’s a lot of fear around injury, but these kids are going to get injured on their scooters and bikes, especially because they have no where to go. They’re out in a parking lot with cars and stuff, but here we have a positive place, a safe place for them to come and skate, and evolve and work on their skills. And become good safe skateboarders and possibly be the next “it” skateboarder in the future, making hundreds of thousands of dollars in contests. It’s also an art park, there’s KDubs (local art teacher), he does the art side of the park, which we were going to construct with a bunch of art panels going around the upper part of the skate park which will involve all the kids in the schools around here donating art, and coming down and showing their creativity. [We are working on] creating a positive place, transforming a place where there’s negative stagnant energy into a positive that brings everybody together. And there’s never any tension down here, there’s always good vibes. Everybody in the community has welcomed us and they’ve been very supportive. We’ve had an opening day already, after a few long months of getting this thing squared away with lots of man-hours and people volunteering their time. Paul Austin who works with the Marin City community projects for youth has been a huge help. Jeremy Tuffli has been the foreman and chief creator of the spot. You know it’s really sad. We worked really hard for something, and now because of a lack of knowledge and fear of the unknown people are scared to open up themselves. The least they have to do is give it a chance and they’ll see that these parks have been erected all over the United States and all throughout the world, and they’ve all been successful in creating a positive place for people to come and skate. Levis donated most of the wood, and FTC from the FTC contest, Will Hutchinson (co-owner of Proof Lab) really did a huge job in spearheading the project of creating a kickstarter page and getting all the skatelite that surfaced all the ramps. They have a ten year weather life so these ramps are here to stay. They’re built really well. They’re not going to be trashed. The community will upkeep this place, everyone keeps it clean. Steve Austin runs a lot of the community stuff with the kids around here, he’s doing summer camps and I’m willing to help out with those kids in the summer camps. During the summer, we’re going to open the park up for them to come down here and skate. Like I said we’re going to bring boards and free equipment for them to use, helmets and pads for safety.
CJ: So it sounds like you and a lot of people have genuinely donated their time and money/materials to put this place together for the good of this community and there’s really no reason for it to be stopped from being open.
MF: We all came together, and that’s how skaters do. You know if we don’t get something done by the community, it’s called DIY (Do it yourself) and that’s what we all came together to do. We have a super fun, creative, awesome park to skate that’s got a lock on the door because a few people just aren’t open to it. Whether they think people are coming in from other places into their community. I think that’s true, people will come from other towns to skate, but it’s not an overflow of traffic, and these people are good role models for the community that younger kids are going to look up to, and say, “Hey I want to skate like that guy”. And get involved, pick up some new ideas, and have a different outlet to turn to than just walking around the street or hanging out in the Best Buy parking lot.
If you are interested in voicing your opinion on this matter, contact Marin City Community Services District by phone at (415)332-9225, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org