Covina to Build Skate Park Designed by Local Skaters… Using Clay

The final design is very close to the model built by employees of downtown’s stalwart Pawnshop Skate Co.

Covina Skate Park was originally designed by an employee of Pawnshop Skate Co. using modeling clay. Credit: Chris Greenspon/SBLA
Covina Skate Park was originally designed by an employee of Pawnshop Skate Co. using modeling clay. Credit: Chris Greenspon/SBLA

The idea of building a skatepark in Covina has been toyed with for decades, according to a trio of city employees and Mayor Walt Allen. 

“Having been on the council for 25 years, I’ve wanted one for many years. And I’m happy to see it finally coming to fruition. I’m all about the young people in the city, and making sure we have good recreational facilities for them.” says Allen.

The East San Gabriel Valley has a rich history of skateboarding, and downtown Covina has had several board shops over the decades: The Outhouse, Utility Board Shop, and currently, Pawnshop Skate Company. 

“They actually came in, one of their employees did a design for us and we handed that over to Spohn Ranch [a skatepark design company].” says Lisa Evans, Director of Parks and Recreation and Library Services. Evans tells SBLA that Pawnshop consulted with the local skate scene and brought their vision to life with a clay model.

Credit: Chris Greenspon/SBLA
Credit: Chris Greenspon/SBLA

“Reputation in Covina is that it’s more of a street skater community and not so much the big bowls and things like that.” says Evans. Pawnshop hosts a skate jam on Friday afternoons called Flatbar Friday. Pro skaters regularly come out to demo for kids, and homegrown pros like Leo Baker have risen from this community.

But soon, these skaters will have more than just an empty skating rink and portable rails to grind. Covina Skatepark will be built at Wingate Park (officially known as Kahler-Russell Park), a long, 17 acre park between Grand Avenue and Glendora Avenue. “It’s going to be approximately 10,000 square feet. Including sidewalks and other amenities it’s going to be approximately another 10,000 square feet.” says City Engineer Rafael Fajardo. (Fajardo also tells SBLA that eventually, the city will build bike lanes for access to the park from both Grand and Glendora with $1.7 million in Measure M funds).

“The folks from Pawnshop were instrumental in making this an inclusive skating facility where you can have the very early, entry [level] skater come in and learn how to use it and you can have the more advanced skaters here still be challenged.” says Director of Public Works Andy Bullington. “And we have a great group of super talented skaters that are going to foster the new group to come in, and they will transition this into their marquee place to be. I’ve learned that when people have ownership of something, they take care of it.”

Evans remarks, “We’ve had, honestly, a love-hate relationship with our skaters here. We definitely want to provide them a place to skate because historically, they’ve skated on things that they shouldn’t, but they didn’t have any alternatives. So we want somewhere safe where they’re not damaging city facilities because they want to skate on anything that’s a rail or whatever else. So I think it’s really a positive thing moving forward and we can finally give them what they need, because they’re our kids. And there are a lot of at-risk youth. So, as Parks and Recreation, as a city, it’s our job to provide positive outlets for them so that they’re not getting into trouble.”

The city will open Construction bids on May 2. $625,000 have been allocated for the project so far, though Fajardo says the latest cost estimate from Spohn Ranch is about $900,000. Bullington is hopeful the park will open by late Winter ‘23/’24.

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