By Andrea Camarena

Nathan Underwood, 17, Miguel Garcia, 18 and Jose Florez, 14, found a slice of paradise in their hometown last week.

On Wednesday, June 14, the Woodlake YMCA held opening ceremonies for a new skatepark in Miller Park.

The project, two years in the making, was the brainchild of several young Woodlake skaters including Underwood, Garcia and Florez.

&#8220We were getting tickets for skating at the school,” Garcia said. &#8220We went to all the city council meetings, trying to get something legitimate started.”

&#8220Everybody went to meetings for a whole summer because people were getting busted everywhere,” Flores said.

The skateboarders struggled to find places to indulge in their hobby over the past few years. A City ordinance prohibits skateboarding on main street and doing tricks on public and or private property usually results in the distribution of property damage tickets because of the chipping of the curbs and sidewalks.

&#8220The kids were trying to practice using curbs and cement walkways. The problem was it was on someone else's property and it causes property damage. We had to come in and enforce the city ordinance. It made sense to bring in a skatepark,” Woodlake Police Chief John Zapalac said.

The City of Woodlake and the YMCA combined to bring the project to completion.

&#8220We already had an agreement to provide recreation to the city,” YMCA Sports and Recreation Director Janice Bardoni said. &#8220The City gave us a budget and set boundries to stay within. We did the research and the kids helped with the design.”

The park was completed over the weekend of June 10-11 with the help of YMCA staff and volunteers. The permanent structures took two and a half days to assemble. The park includes an unfenced concrete slab with one large ramp, one small ramp and two rails and cost a little more than $25,000.

&#8220We asked the kids what they wanted and they had an elaborate idea that would have cost $100,000,” Bardoni said. &#8220So we scaled it down and put in almost everything they wanted in some form but smaller.”

&#8220We are very proud to have sponsorhsip with the YMCA on this project,” Vice Mayor Raul Gonzalez said.

The city-owned park is free and open to the public with City ordinance, 561 setting forth the rules and stipultions for park usage.

&#8220In any skateboard park or facility owned or operated by the City, any person riding a skateboard, inline skates or similar device shall wear a helmet, elbow pads and knee pads,” the ordinance states.

Bardoni and Zapalac both stated that the helmet rule will only apply to those individuals under 18.

&#8220The park is good, it just needs more runway,” Underwood said.

According to Bardoni, plans for future additions for the park are another two years away but are already on the YMCA's agenda.

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