Park skates though CSUC hoops—for now
A kid dropping by to skate lobs an easily answered question at park founder Marcus Dorin: “Can you do a handstand when you skate?” Nope, he says. The tougher query is the followup: How long will the park on the university campus be open?
That all depends. If funding and community support will hold, and university officials don’t get too freaked out about legal liability, the park could be there until the school gets around to building on the old tennis courts behind Yolo Hall.
Dorin, an agile 29-year-old with a bit of a Jeff Spicoli accent, taught a one-unit skateboarding class through the physical education department a few years ago, and the coaching and sports administration graduate student was running the faculty fitness program for the recreation department when teachers encouraged him to set up a skateboard-themed adventure day camp for kids this summer.
On June 13, the casually named Recreational Sports Skateboard Park opened, with an informal “summer camp” type approach.
The park, plopped atop the still-marked tennis courts behind Yolo Hall, lacks the concrete architectural splendor of the city-run Humboldt Skate Park, but its wood-and-masonite ramps and 6-foot half pipe are more modern and advanced and attract skaters of all ages looking to test their skills. “It’s X-games style,” Dorin explained. “People who only see skateboarding on TV can relate.”
Stephanie Yule, Chico State’s director of risk management, said the university did have some “concerns” about the park, which were addressed by having skaters (or their guardians, if they’re underage) sign release-of-liability waivers and requiring helmets to be worn.
Since the university is a state entity, it is self-insured. Students and others frequently partake in “at-risk sports” on campus, including a rock wall in the gym. Even so, Dorin said it took a while for the university decision-makers to get on board. “There’s still this stigma around here like, ‘Oh my God, it’s skateboarding.'” In other cities, especially in Oregon, there are multi-million dollar parks built just to give kids something to do that they enjoy.
Dorin said he knew when he constructed the park that it would have to go if the university got tired of it or came up with a better use for the old tennis courts. “At this point, it’s not a permanent thing,” he said. But with the state budget the way it is, “there’s no money to fix up that stuff back there.” Hence, he’s optimistic the park can stay for the time being and maybe even become a revenue-generator. (Dorin contracted with the university to build and manage the park and found the funding to staff it. He’s now looking for community sponsors.)
If the park is forced to close, he said, “I’ll be disappointed because I won’t have felt that it’s reached its potential.”
The best part, he said, is watching the younger kids get excited about skating.
Yule said that extending the time the park is in existence won’t change anything in how the university watches over it. They’re OK with the park but not 100 percent comfortable, as is the nature of risk management folks. “Having people walk down the sidewalk makes me nervous,” she said.
Those who don’t get nervous can drop down to the park between 6 and 9:30 weekday and Saturday evenings and 9 to 11 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. It costs $5 a day, $10 a week or $35 a month, to cover expenses.