Jameson and Laura Lucero, former residents of Santa Cruz, were shocked when they moved to Nipomo five years ago. Coming from the “skate capital of the world,” the couple found that Nipomo’s lack of recreational activities stared at them.
“It’s really sad, because I have young kids, and when I take them to the toddler’s playground in the park where the skate park is supposed to be, the middle school kids make music. [there]. Moms stare, giving them dirty looks. They literally don’t have a place here, ”Laura said.
Laura worked at Dana Elementary Bright Futures, which brought her closer to the concerns of the children and teens of Nipomo. Bright Futures is an after-school program run by Tefft Street Primary School, just over a mile from the old recreation center where Nipomo’s youth have set up a makeshift skate park. But in April 2021, the DIY skate park known locally as “the Rec” was demolished to pave the way for a mall to include outlets like Tractor Supply Co. and a Wendy’s restaurant.
Community members have been waiting for a skate park since 2017, a project they will likely have to wait longer due to budget constraints. The demolition of the Rec underscored Nipomo’s underserved status with respect to recreational facilities. San Luis Obispo County Parks and Recreation Department officials attributed the lack of amenities to poor funding and tight purse strings. But the residents of Nipomo claim that the town’s income is being diverted from them.
“People here feel like all these out-of-town investors are buying real estate in this small town and selling these lucrative, quick and cheap franchises without any regard for children’s values, health or culture. in our community. The interests of young people are not represented as they deserve, ”said Laura.
Laura mentioned Matthew Diaz, a 24-year-old resident, who was fatally struck by a car in 2019 while skateboarding at night on Frontage Road near Rec. His death caused waves in the skating community of Nipomo, and residents even called for better street lighting and sidewalk improvements. This month, the county public works department began construction of the crosswalks next to Dana Elementary School, near where the future skate park will be located, to make it safer for pedestrians.
Recreational facilities like the one Nipomo wants fall under the jurisdiction of the Parks and Recreation Commission, which prioritizes projects once the SLO County Oversight Board allocates funds to them. Second District Parks Commissioner Pandora Nash-Karner said New times that the county has been strict with the distribution of funds, which has helped areas receive fewer amenities.
“There’s absolutely no money. I’ve always felt that the oversight board didn’t see the arts as really important. The board hears all departments and basically sees parks as swings for Donnie and Susie, without understanding this people need to be on the outside, they need to connect with others, they need all that nature has to offer, ”she said.
Nash-Karner added that the commission has two needs on the county’s part before it can effectively close the recreation gap: funding to hire another planner to research and write more grants up for grabs, and a more marketing budget. high for Parks and Rec to increase its revenue generation.
Nick Franco, Director of Parks and Rec, said New times that the county is also stretched because all of its areas need their own recreational facilities.
“We have to try to provide that fair amount across the county. That’s the challenge. We’re going to have a skate park in Nipomo and we have one in Los Osos. But we don’t have anything in North County. should also be a priority, ”Franco said. “We have ball fields in Nipomo and we have some in El Chorro… but do we have anything in Cambria? No, we don’t.”
But longtime Nipomo residents like Elijah Coleman believe their city needs more than the four baseball diamonds it is home to. He played there when he was a kid, and now, 35 years later, his kids beat there too. Coleman, a Little League board member, thinks it’s time to upgrade.
“Nipomo does not get its fair share of recreation revenue even though it produces most of it in the county. Nipomo Little League maintains and improves baseball fields only through volunteer time and sponsor money,” did he declare. New times via Facebook. “The skate park is a great start to getting some of that income back to Nipomo instead of donating it to Avila / SLO. It would be nice to get funds to repair existing baseball fields and add more.”
Franco mentioned an additional obstacle to the installation of more ball fields: the drop in water levels in SLO County. He said that the use of water available for recreation would affect the amount needed for housing.
Coleman is hoping that the revenue generated from the expected Dana reserve – a Nipomo-based county project offering nearly 1,300 housing units – could be used to build a sports complex.
He is not the only resident to offer a roadmap to a coveted local establishment. Laura and her husband, Jameson Lucero, are also working with a business mentoring group called SCORE SLO to determine how they can start a skateboard store in Nipomo. They plan to donate the projected income to build the appropriate skate park, an area the Nipomo skateboarders want dedicated to the late Diaz. For Jameson, a native of Salinas, skateboarding is a beacon of light for young people.
“They really have nothing to do if you are not a fan of basketball or team sports. Coming from Salinas there is a lot of gangs and violence, I saw what the skateparks can do. do for the communities, ”he said. “When they built the park there, I saw that a lot of the kids had a way to express themselves. It gave them a safe place.” ??
Contact Bulbul editor Rajagopal at email@example.com.