The 14,000-square-foot park next to the Hammon Senior Center and the Patterson Aquatic Center is one of the few places Estrada and his friends can practice their skills without being chased away by police or merchants, who don’t always appreciate boarders sliding down handrails or grinding across flowerpot ledges outside their stores.
“The skate park gets us off the streets, and gives us a place to skate. Basically, it feels like home,” Estrada said. “I’ve been coming here since it opened. I think that this is a good investment for Patterson.”
Before the opening of the city’s skate park in 2011, local boarders rolled through the empty parking spots outside of Save Mart Supermarket, congregating to grind the curb in the True Value Hardware lot and jumping fences along Las Palmas Avenue just to look for a decent place to skate.
But Patterson teens are no longer left to the streets.
The West Side’s first in-ground skate park features grind rails, benches, stairs, bowls and other structures meant to replicate some of the features boarders encounter in an urban setting.
“The vibe between local skateboarders is really strong,” Estrada said. “I’ve seen the park get filled up, and you see a lot of different (skateboarding) styles. At night, when it’s cooler, we come here to skate. And there’s all ages of kids.”
It’s challenging enough for veteran riders who launch off the ramps with twists and turns, and yet, younger boarders can learn the proper way to ride, Estrada added.
Safety is priority one, however, and pads and helmets are required.
Jared Hammond, 18, is free to explore his inner daredevil in a controlled space, and that is priceless.
“I skate here almost everyday,” Hammond said. “This is one of the better skate parks in the region. The bowl is well designed, and made so that we can do street and vertical skating. It’s an all-around good experience for everybody, intermediate to advanced.”
Just as it was important to provide a center for Patterson’s seniors and build the aquatic center for community use, 16-year-old Dylan Dehoyos said he was happy that the city is able to offer a better place for its young people.
The only other skate park on the West Side is a small, above-ground park south of the city in Newman.
Designed by renowned consultant, Wally Hollyday, Patterson’s skate park was added to a long list of hundreds of other custom parks the designer has conceptualized throughout the country.
The product is nearly seven years worth of work and $727,400, but perhaps no one is more thrilled for the project’s success than the dozens of tank top-clad, board-bearing youth who turn out daily to surf the terrain.
“Skateboarding really gets my mind away from everything,” Hammond said. “I’ve been using the park for about a year and a half now. It really does give us something to do.”
Unlike many other sports, there are no teams and no rivalries in the intensely individual boarding community.
A stronger performer isn’t seen as a rival, but as an inspiration for others to raise their own bar.
Boarders also said the skate parks helps build stronger relationships in the community. It allows boarders to do their thing without making it hard for police to patrol scattered skateboarders.
“This is a special place for me. I can really do tricks at this park,” said 9-year-old Askari Miller. “Some of these kids make it look easy. It gives me something to want to try as I get better.”
The skate park is open seven days a week from dawn to 10:45 p.m.
For information: City of Patterson, 895-8000.
Contact Marc Aceves at 892-6187, ext. 28, or firstname.lastname@example.org.