I am so excited to have Tracy Engel representing the Ramona Skatepark with us as our guest blogger today!  Ramona is in a very unique situation right now where we as a community have the opportunity to help raise the money for a new skatepark for our local youth.  Tracy is going to share with you a little about what the Ramona Skatepark Champions are about and what they are doing in our community, and how you can be a part of and help out this great cause.  Take it away Tracy!

Hey there!  My name is Tracy Engel and I am very happy to be here as Stage Presence Homes Guest Blogger! Deb asked me if I could share a little bit about who the Ramona Skatepark Champions are, what it is that we are doing, and why. I have lived in Ramona for the past 27 years.  I was here when Rick Chappel launched our first skatepark effort back when my son was in elementary school.  My son is a grown man now, and we still don’t have a skatepark. Without kids at home and comfortable in my career, now I have the time and energy to do something about it. 

Ramona Skatepark Champions are a volunteer association of Ramona residents and business owners who are working to raise $70,000 (+/-) for the purpose of maintaining a County skatepark behind the library on Main and 12th street. This proposed location is across from urgent care and two blocks from the Sheriff.  The County already owns this land and it is already designated as park land. This park, called the “Ramona Intergenerational Community Campus,” will have several features, not just the library and the proposed skatepark. Read more about RICC at our website.

It is up to the community of Ramona to “claim” a spot on that vacant lot for a skatepark by raising the requisite $70,000 (+/-) to launch the County building project. Many people want to know “when will we break ground.”  Well, the timeline starts once we raise the money. We have a little more than $2,300 raised now, at the conclusion of our first 12-months of fund-raising.  You can track our progress with the thermometer at the top right of any page at our website at www.ramonaskatepark.org. We still have a ways to go.

This $70,000 (+/-), that we call a “Maintenance Bond Fund,” represents 5-years of whatever annual monetary value the County estimates for maintenance of the park. We are basing our number on the actual numbers required of the Friends of the Lakeside Skatepark. This is what Lakeside did to get a skatepark.  Because we, like Lakeside, are unincorporated County, our community must commit to reimburse the County fund for the maintenance of the park in our community. When we have $70,000 raised, then our group will be the community fund-raising group that signs the contract with the County that our community will reimburse them for maintenance of our park. At that time, the County will launch our skatepark project.

The project will be a County Park, built by the County, on County-owned-land, and will be physically maintained by the County. Our only responsibility is to fund the maintenance, not to perform the maintenance. We have no control over what contractor will be selected by the County. The project will follow the County Bid Process. The County will hold all liability, and that liability is mitigated by California State Health & Safety Code Section 115800. 

 

New this year, AB1146 just passed, last month. This will solve issues with shared use of public skateparks between bikes, scooters and skateboarders. The Health & Safety code has been modified to expand the clauses that mitigate liability for cities and counties for skateparks to include scooters and bikes and non-motorized, all-wheel devices – even, wheel-chairs! 

 

This legislation was strongly supported by Ramona Skatepark Champions and the community of Ramona, through petitions we have been asking you to sign for the past year.  This bill “sailed” through assembly and senate vote, this year. It now sits on the Governors desk awaiting signature. The experience of supporting, educating, petitioning and following the progress of that legislation has been a fascinating education on the civic process for our student supporters…with a successful conclusion!

 

Many people want to know how big will the park be and how will it look. There is currently $90,000 set aside in Ramona’s PLDO (Parks Land & Development Organization) fund that will be just about right for the design and engineering costs…once we are able to show that we can produce the requisite maintenance bond fund from community support. How the County handled design for the Lakeside skatepark was to have a series of community meeting where kids and adult skaters were grouped together in tables with cutout park features that they arranged in a design of their choice. Then all the designs where voted on by the community. The winning design is what you see in Lakeside, today.

 

The actual building funds will come from PLDO funds and other public and private grants for which we might apply. The PLDO is an existing parks fund that is supported by fees on every new residential unit constructed in Ramona. We also have volunteers with professional grant-writing experience on board to help us seek and apply for grants for the building fund…. once we are able to show our 501c3. Talk to us about our efforts to secure the 501c3 to free up large donors to make larger donations and qualify for grants. That is a long story that should be resolved shortly.

 

Our biggest challenge is inertia.  Other groups, before us, have made effort to get a skatepark with varying degrees of effectiveness. It is through those prior efforts us that we have support at the County and Planning Group levels. Because of people who came before us, there is land ready to be designated for the use. These people did not “fail.” They worked hard to overcome large obstacles before passing the torch to another group, who could attack the problem with renewed energy.

 

However, the fact that we’ve been at this for so long and several groups have worked on the project, public perception sometimes appears to be that “others tried and failed, so you will fail, too” The inertia that is encouraged by the negative perception of past efforts has been our biggest challenge in our first 12-months of fund-raising…when the fact is, all we have left to do is raise some money and launch the project.

 

Before we can convince a skater to give us a dollar, he or she must believe that we are on the final stretch, that there can be a skatepark in his or her lifetime. We believe that is absolutely true. The evidence is all around us, including the successful building of the skatepark in unincorporated Lakeside.  But people have to lift themselves out of the comfortable and static state of “wanting a skatepark,” or “wanting something for the kids,” and just DO IT. This is not rocket science. We need some money to get the job done and that means residents and local businesses need to STEP UP

 

If you are pro-skatepark, then that means YOU. We need YOU to STEP UP

 

LET’S BUILD THIS!!! 

~Tracy

 

 

Thank you so much Tracy for giving us more information about the skatepark!  If you would like more information or to find out how you can join in on this cause please see the information below.  Get involved!  Be the change and make a difference! 

Ramona Skatepark Champions can be found online at:

·          Our Website:  www.ramonaskatepark.org

·          Facebook with our page for Ramona Skatepark and our group for Ramona Skatepark Champions

·          Instagram: @RamonaSkatepark and hashtags #RamonaSkatepark and #LetsBuildThis

·          YouTube Channel for Ramona Skatepark

·          Email info@ramonaskatepark.org

 

Ramona Skatepark Champions are often found, in-person, on Thursday nights, from 6-8ish, outside of Packards Coffee Shop at 7th and Main, selling root beer floats donated by Packards and tee-shirts and giving away stickers and toy-boarders at Ramona American Graffiti Cruise Night. 

 

Please donate online using the paypal link at the top right of any page at our website. Every dollar matters!!!

 If you haven't already please go and "Like" Ramona Skakepark Champions and Ramona Skatepark on Facebook.  "Like" Stage Presence Homes on Facebook to stay up to date with what is going on in your community.