Every Friday, Cambria residents gather on Main Street across from the Vets Hall to rally. Organized by Skate Cambria, the participants all want one thing: A new skate park to replace the one that was removed in mid-2020.
- Photo Courtesy Of Skate Cambria
- SKATE RALLY Members of Skate Cambria have held weekly rallies for more than a year to support building a new skatepark.
The Cambria Community Services District (CCSD) committed to funding at least part of the project at its Dec. 9 meeting, but it took Skate Cambria 17 months of rallying to get there.
"[The old skate park] was taken out because of deferred maintenance," said Juli Amodei, project manager of Skate Cambria. "The decision was reached by the Cambria Community Services District that they felt it wasn't being used."
When the old park was dismantled, Skate Cambria members began gathering for weekly rallies, which have continued throughout the past year and a half.
"I can't even begin to tell you how many times a $100 bill has been handed to us," Amodei said. "We had a gentleman write a check to us for $5,000. It's a real grassroots fundraising effort."
At its Nov. 20 meeting, the board considered using Proposition 68 Per Capita Program funds for the skate park project. The Per Capita Program requires that the full project cost be budgeted. Even with these funds, the project would have still had an estimated funding shortfall of nearly $800,000, according to the meeting agenda—though Skate Cambria believes that cost could be lower.
"We haven't got into cost-valued engineering or potential exemptions with the county," Amodei said. "Our goal is to get this number down."
However, CCSD staff's main concern was the Proposition 68 funds requiring that the project be fully funded.
"The board would have to make that decision to commit those funds to this project if they decide today to go ahead and apply for this grant," said CCSD Finance Manager Pamela Duffield at the Nov. 20 meeting.
The board voted 4-1 not to use Proposition 68 funds for the skate park, instead opting to use the money to build bathrooms at the East Ranch dog park in Cambria.
For some, the board's decision felt like a step backwards after the community-led efforts of the last year and a half. As of Dec. 14, Skate Cambria had raised $218,000 for the project through its fundraising efforts, including a $50,000 donation that came in recently.
"We have pickleball, lawn bowling, and lots of activities for adults in our community that was built on land that was designated to be used for children," Margie Perez-Sesser, whose granddaughter enjoys skateboarding in Cambria, wrote in a Nov. 30 post in the Cambria Currents Facebook group. "This grant is supposed to be used for underrepresented groups, which includes our children!"
Board President Cindy Steidel reiterated the board's support for the skate park, despite voting not to use the Proposition 68 money for it.
"The only caveat to it was the fiscal capability to do it, not the fact that the actual site in any way was in question or the desire of the skate park community wasn't being heard," Steidel said at the meeting.
At a Nov. 30 special meeting, Steidel suggested bringing forward a resolution to commit $178,000 toward the skate park project, the same amount that the project would have received from Proposition 68 funds. At its Dec. 9 meeting, the board voted in favor of the resolution.
Sixteen-year-old Cyrus Tatham, president of the youth-led Skate Cambria board, said he's ecstatic about the outcome.
"It feels very relieving to know that we are able to rely on the Community Services District now," Tatham wrote in a statement to New Times. "As well as exciting that we are finally picking up momentum in this long process and that we've been able to watch the seed we planted grow into this beautiful skate park we can all enjoy some day." Δ