New skateboardpark gets wheels

Simultaneously imparting a major quality-of-life improvement for Malibu’s youth and easing a nagging frustration for the owners of local shopping centers, the City Council Monday unanimously approved plans for a 10,000-square-foot skateboard park on Cross Creek Road. The new park, located just north of Civic Center Way, is scheduled to open this summer.

City officials are hoping the new facility will replace shopping center parking lots as the training ground for the jumps and maneuvers favored by Malibu’s skateboarding fanatics.

After a state law went into effect last year reducing the risks of liability for operating public skate parks, the city made arrangements to build one behind City Hall. But the plans were scrapped when underground contamination was discovered on the site.

Since then, local resident Jack Schultz, owner of the lot where the new park will be located, approached the city with an offer to use his property without charge. The city will have access to the property for an initial two-year term followed by renewals on an annual basis. Parks and Recreation officials plan to charge a $2 admission fee to the park, which will be named Papa Jack’s in honor of Schultz’s generosity.

A volunteer committee of youth and adult skateboarders designed the park, complete with ramps once used for a movie set. Malibu Paving Company has agreed to pave the park at cost.

Members of the committee came to Monday’s meeting to show support for the project.

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“It will take us off the streets and out of the parking lots,” said Blake Mills, who along with his father, John, has played pivotal roles in keeping the project alive.

The council needed no arm twisting, however, and approved the construction of the skate park with little debate.

In other matters, the council unanimously approved part of a new traffic and pedestrian safety plan for Juan Cabrillo Elementary and Malibu High schools. The plan was prepared after a series of accidents in front of the schools, most recently when a 4-year-old girl was struck and injured by a car last year.

The improvements include the painting of three crosswalks and the creation of restricted parking zones on both the north and south side of Morning View Drive. Future improvements not currently budgeted include a sidewalk on the south side of Morning View Drive.

In budget negotiations in July, the council plans to allocate funds to employ two crossing guards starting in the next school year, despite protestations by Mayor Walt Keller that high school students should volunteer to do the job instead.

Pat Cairns, principal of Juan Cabrillo, told Keller she would prefer that the students stay in class. Besides, she added, drivers are more likely to heed the signals of adult crossing guards.

But Keller argued, without any visible support from the other council members, that because he had worked as a crossing guard when he was 14 years old, high school students today should also be capable of performing that duty.

“You must have been some 14-year-old,” Cairns jokingly responded. “Anyway, where were the Suburbans then?”

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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