Alec Beck, the 23-year-old co-creator of the Stoner Recreation Center's new skate plaza, hopes the skate park becomes a safe haven for board-riders looking for a place to meet outside of public spaces that usually don't welcome them. A recent visit to the granite playground demonstrates that the park seems to have already achieved that objective.
"It's inspirational," said 17-year-old Yesenia Ramirez of Glendale. "We need our own space to skate without being harassed by the cops."
Ramirez has been skating for four years and traveled across town after hearing about the park from skaters in Glendale.
Steven Stinson from West L.A. got together with 10 friends at Stoner Park to pay tribute to friend Kenny Brimer, a skater from Hawaii who passed away from leukemia.
"Our main goal is to shred for him, " Stinson said, referring to the late Brimer. "It's all about having fun and bringing out the good vibes."
Beck and fellow skater Huck Gibson, dreamed up the space after a famous spot at the West L.A. courthouse was closed to skaters a few years ago. Gibson met with Jay Handal, now chair of the West L.A. neighborhood council, about the need to create a park in West L.A. Handal invited the two skaters over to his restaurant in Brentwood and began drawing up plans for the park.
Handal then sought aid from Councilman Bill Rosendahl's office, who helped them secure the contracting firm California Skateparks to build the $1.8 million plaza. The project was financed using Quimby Funds: a pool of money set aside by the city to fund redevelopment projects for the parks department.
Handal believed that the creation of the plaza at Stoner Park would serve to deter gang-activity and bring a positive influence to the community.
"This is a glowing accomplishment for the West L.A. neighborhood," Handal told the Weekly. "This park is a great example of bridging the gap between the politicians and the community."
Several local pro skaters also took part in designing the space. The names, according to sources, include: Colin Cook, Justin Cefai, Joey Brezinski, Chris Roberts and Aaron Snyder. California Skateparks and the local pros created the 20,000 square feet space to reflect landmark skate areas around L.A.
"Its the very small details of a skate park that make it what it is," Beck said, referring to the painstaking design and planning that went into creating the park. "All of the obstacles are influenced by existing street spots."
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One part of Stoner mirrors an area of the West L.A. courthouse, while another portion mimics a popular skate spot along a Venice bike path.
Beck already received many compliments from local skaters about the park and noted that the skating community is very particular about the design aspects of their skate parks.
"It's a huge honor to be recognized," Beck said. "The park was designed by skaters for skaters."
The skate park, at Nebraska and Stoner avenues, is open from 9 a.m. to dusk every day.