Silverado skatepark

ASK member Vincent Macias watches other skateboarders Saturday at Silverado Skate Park before a meeting to talk about upgrades there.

It's been eight years since Mike Donelon activated the energy of youth skateboarders to design a skatepark in Long Beach.

That gap ended last Saturday with a Re-Imagining Meeting at Silverado Skatepark. Members of Donelon's ASK (Action Sports Kids) Foundation had lobbied in the early 2000s for creation of a skatepark addition to the city park at 1545 W. 31st St., so it only made sense to take on the revitalization, Donelon said.

"Because of the COVID, we've been doing a lot of the groundwork on Instagram," Donelon said. "We've made some changes to try to bring the price down — it's around $100,000 now. We're hoping to finalize some things Saturday (Feb. 27) so we can move forward."

That meeting has taken place, attracting around 30 youngsters and adults, most masked and attempting to maintain social distancing. Now, Donelon said, the work begins to find the money to pay for the rebuild.

"We'll start to reach out to our sponsors now," Donelon said. "The ASK Foundation is donating $10,000 to get it started."

Silverado originally used elements — structures used by skateboarders for tricks — from the Michael Green Skatepark on the 14th Street parkway, and added a few more when the Bixby Park facility was upgraded. Because they were portable components, they wore out quickly, Donelon said.

"It's (Silverado) been getting a lot of use lately," he added. "And the kids want to be a part of rebuilding it."

Silverado is the only skatepark on the city's West Side, west of the Los Angeles River.

Donelon said that the city's Parks, Recreation and Marine Department has blessed the project, but doesn't have money for the improvements. Seventh District Councilman Roberto Uranga is on board as well, Donelon said.

Donelon started this process 25 years ago, when he was the Seventh District Councilman in 1996. Prompted by a group of young skateboarders, he began advocating for skate parks in the city. Further, he convinced the Parks, Recreation and Marine Department to include the youngsters in planning the design of parks; first at El Dorado Park, then at Houghton Park.

After activities at those parks demonstrated the facilities cut down on street skating and other issues, more parks followed. Including the young skaters every step of the way, Donelon said eight skateparks were created, with the last being a redesign at McBride Park.

In 2011, Donelon formalized the organization, launching the ASK Foundation. Superstar skateboarder Tony Hawk, who had endorsed earlier Long Beach skateparks, lent his name and support from his own foundation to further ASK's growth.

"ASK membership has exploded since COVID began," Donelon said. "We're getting members from other states, even other countries. We must be doing something right."

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Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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