'Choice' skate park finally opens

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By Jennifer Garcia

Anticipation was high and adrenaline was all but seeping from the pores of the young spectators as they stood anxiously waiting for the ribbon cutting of the new skate park to be completed.

After the speeches were delivered by council members and county officials, 16-year-old Elliot Marcille gave the green light when he yelled, “All right, everybody, we’ve waited a long time for this skate park. So tear it up!”

As if on cue, skateboarders and rollerbladers gathered in groups and began breaking in the new concrete. Dozens of children of varying ages gathered in front of Mesa Public Library in anticipation of the skate park opening.

Before the ribbon-cutting, Los Alamos Police Department Detective Doug Johnson gave away some helmets, to encourage safe skating practices.

For some kids, like Marcille, who has been following the project for approximately four years, the skate park was a dream come true. Council Chair Jim Hall, Vice Chair Robert Gibson, Councilor Ken Milder, Councilor Frances Berting and Councilor Michael Wheeler were present at the ribbon cutting.

“It’s a great day, we did it,” Berting said of the ribbon cutting. “I think the kids are happy and we’re happy with the turnout. It’s amazing,” she said.

Wheeler agreed with Berting.

“I’m really glad to see it completed,” he said. “It’s a positive addition.”

It’s no secret that the skate park was embroiled in controversy and there were many residents who opposed the current location in front of the library. Residents against the location circulated a petition a few months ago in an effort to get council to reconsider the skate park site.

One of those residents was council candidate Mike Wismer, who was present at the ribbon cutting. Council candidate Manuel Baca, who spoke out at council meetings in support of the park was also present.

Marcille was active in trying to get council to understand that a skate park was wanted and needed in the community.

He attended county council meetings and encouraged his friends to attend meetings as well. He and other kids passed out T-shirts and buttons that read “Preserve tradition: Welcome the young and adventurous downtown.”

They would also post and pass out fliers announcing council meetings and encouraging youth to attend and take an active part in the democratic process. Community Services Director Stephani Johnson was pleased with turnout.

“I can’t believe how successful (the ribbon cutting) is. I’m pleased with the number of kids that showed up,” she said. “The kids think it’s sik,” she said, quoting one of the kids she overheard.

Hall was also pleased with the turnout. “This is something we’ve been working on since 2004. I’m glad to see this come to fruition,” he said.

Police Chief Torpy and Detective Johnson played vital roles in the implementation of the skate park plan. They were the ones who pushed the planforward after hearing complaints about skateboarders skating around town.

Torpy said that he was glad that council stuck with their plans.

“I’m thrilled to see it open,” Torpy said of the park. He said that it will be a benefit for the community and was impressed with the athleticism skateboarders demonstrated.

“This should tell you it’s not a fad,” he said.

Marcille said that he’s been to skate parks across the country and in his opinion, the new park is one of the best.

“I’m ecstatic,” he said of the park. “This is the greatest skate park to come to Los Alamos. The concrete and transitions are more than I thought they would be,” he said.

Austin Gardner and Pat Hend were also excited about the park. “It’s a lot better than the first one, for sure,” Gardner said.

“I’ve been with the project since it started and I thought it was going nowhere, but this (park) is choice,” Hend said. “I’ll probably be here everyday.”