Skaters and citizens await new skate park in Holtville


HOLTVILLE, Calif.–Even kids here admit they need a place to keep themselves out of trouble.

The town's one public tennis court may become the site of a new skate park in Holtville by next year, offering a place for local skaters to stay out of trouble. --Photo by Patricia Murillo

“We could use a skate park because then,” said 13-year-old skater, Rafael Ledesma, “we wouldn’t be getting ourselves into so much trouble.”

Skaters in Holtville are frequently told not to skate on sidewalks and near businesses, and usually find themselves in situations where they are not able to skate anywhere in the small farming community of about 6,000. “They chase us, calling is crazy,” said Ledesma.

But, the City of Holtville is trying to find the means and the location for a skate park within the next year to provide a place where they’re not causing problems for pedestrians and motorists.

The city council has come up with two possible locations, one being on an existing tennis court on Fern Street at a cost of about $300,000.

Holtville's Donut Avenue manager, Margarita Torres, says she frequently has to chase skaters out of her shop, especially when she finds some of them "tagging" graffiti in the back of the store. --Photo by Patricia Murillo

The second location proposed is a vacant lot that requires a fresh build for about $800,000.

“The skate park on Fourth Street would cost more because it would be a sports complex, but it would also be a good place for the community to bring their families and spend the day,” said Laura Fischer, Holtville’s city manager.

“It will most likely be paid by the city’s revenue,” said Fischer. Before building the skate park, the city council must decide what the best way to build the park is and make sure it does not exceed the budget limit. Fischer said the city is also vying for grant funding to help build the facility.

“The skate park sounds amazing,” said Margarita Torres, Donut Avenue’s manager. “It will also take so much weight off my shoulders, having to deal with the skaters.” Donut Avenue is one of the main places where skaters show up on a daily basis, often vandalizing both the inside and outside of the bakery, Torres said.

“I call the cops all the time to scare them away or because they are doing things they are not suppose to,” said Torres. “I can’t say how many times I’ve heard them say, ‘Hey steal a soda.'”

Customers sometimes complain to Torres about the skaters being rude and for intentionally hitting people’s cars.

AJ Silva, left, Alex Guzman, center, and Rafael Ledesma, stand in front of a "No Skateboarding" sign in front of the park on Nov. 29, 2010, although everyday they skate in this area. --Photo by Patricia Murillo

But, some skaters don’t see it that way.

“There isn’t really much to do here in Holtville, putting up signs that say no skating, makes it seem like we only do horrible things,” said 15-year-old skater, Alex Guzman. Skating is a hobby they enjoy and a pastime, he said, not to harm anyone on purpose.

Holtville Sheriff Gordon Johnson heads out on patrol duty on Nov. 29, 2010. He said one good reason for a skate park is that skaters and trick bicyclists pose a danger to themselves when they use the streets for their pastime. --Photo by Patricia Murillo

The Holtville Sheriff’s Department is often called when businesses have problems with skaters. “The ones with the bicycles,” said Sheriff Gordon Johnson, “jump off the curbs and into the motoring public.” A sidewalk with chipped red paint is easily fixable, though when it comes to an accident its difficult to be fixed, according to Johnson.

“I will not say all the skaters and bicyclists are the problem because they too can be the victims,” said Johnson. Not having an area that allows them to skate freely, gives them no choice but to skate in areas that will upset the community.

“Even though they are not allowed to skate in front of city hall, we usually don’t tell them anything because we know where they are,” Johnson said.

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