A low-cost experiment on the value and popularity of a skateboard facility in Portola Valley got rolling Wednesday, Nov. 13.
A consensus on the Town Council gave the go-ahead to staff and the Parks & Recreation Committee to proceed with a 12-month trial of a temporary quarter-pipe skateboarding ramp at Town Center.
The $1,500 wooden ramp would sit at one end of the town's multi-purpose "sport court." A net would separate it from the adjacent tennis courts, and another net could be used to separate it from one of the basketball hoops on the sport court.
The ramp would sit on the court and not be permanently attached; its weight would keep it in place, said a skateboarding authority present at the council meeting.
The ramp's placement will limit basketball opportunities to half-court games, which is not expected to be a hardship since most of the basketball activity is inside the three-point zone, said Jon Myers, chair of the town's Parks & Recreation Committee.
The earliest a ramp could be available for skating is late February, Town Manager Nick Pegueros told the Almanac. In between now and then would be an analysis, evaluation and public hearing at the town's Architectural and Site Control Commission, which would advise the council on an ordinance. The ASCC may take it up in late January or early February.
The town would engage an architect to consult on the project. Taking that step would bolster the town's position should legal issues arise, Mr. Pegueros said.
A quarter-pipe ramp allows skaters to roll up the ramp, balance the board at the top in various ways, and roll back down. The committee began with a half-pipe that would have had two balance points and allowed skaters to roll back and forth between them, but its size worked against it, Mr. Myers said.
If the trial period is successful, it could lead to a half-pipe ramp either at Town Center or one of several other locations.
In the case of complaints during the trial period, the skating community will have parents serving as liaisons to town staff and the larger community, Mr. Myers said.
The sport court had in its favor a firm, flat surface and a central location, Mr. Myers said in a letter. "It is an all-sports court," he noted in his remarks to the council.
The other locations under consideration were along Alpine Road: near the Rossotti (soccer) Field, the Ford (baseball) Field, and Corte Madera Middle School.
Need for a facility
"There are a lot of skateboarders in town," Mr. Myers said. The ramp is intended as "a place to come together and do something that's fun."
"I'm all for (it)," said Councilman Jeff Aalfs. "I think we should move forward."
"I think it's a great idea," Councilwoman Ann Wengert added.
There is skateboarding going on in town -- at Roberts Market, at Corte Madera Middle School, at Town Center, and along Alpine Road, Mr. Myers said. "I'd rather have them (at the Town Center) than going down Alpine Road," he told the Almanac.
Town staff has asked the kids skating at Town Center to skate inside the campus and not in the parking lot, where they mix with vehicles. "They're not tall and they're on these skateboards and it is difficult to see them," Mr. Pegueros said.
At Town Center, there are low walls that are inviting, and the skateboarders have skated on them, and staff has asked them not to. "They have been very respectful of our requests," Mr. Pegueros said.