Hemet skate park takes a step closer to reality with grant application submitted

The Hemet City Council continues its pursuit of creating a skate park on the north end of Hemet’s Gibbel Park at Florida Avenue and Kirby Street, approving two resolutions moving to project forward at the Sept. 8 council meeting. Valley News/Tony Ault photo

The Hemet City Council approved two resolutions to bring a skate park to the community during its Sept. 8, meeting. The skate park has been long sought by city skateboarders and was spearheaded by former city councilmember Bonnie Wright.

In 2018, at the public’s request, the city council approved a feasibility study with Stantec Consulting to work directly with community members to understand their vision for the skate park plaza proposed in the north end of Gibbel Park. The city council approved an allocation of $68,500 to complete the community outreach process, finalize the skate plaza design scheme and develop detailed construction drawings.

The council also approved the city’s application for grant funding to fund the entire project.

“We are grateful for the community’s collaborative involvement to bring the skate park to Hemet. The ad hoc committee and staff have been diligent in keeping the momentum, and we are eager to see this project move forward as it will provide exciting new recreational opportunities for our community,” Mayor Russ Brown said.

The initial design presented a skate plaza at Gibbel Park where residents could skate with their peers in a safe environment. The park may include skate amenities such as a snake run, bowl and quarter pipes and would cover between 12,000 and 15,000 square feet at the park.

The next stages of development will include additional conversations with the Hemet community to settle on a final vision for the plaza, as well as finalizing the application to the Statewide Park Development and Community Revitalization Program for a $1.95 million grant to construct the skate plaza.

Should the city receive the funding needed in partnership with the California Department of Parks and Recreation, the city will receive 100% reimbursement of all costs expended and the skate park could be completed by March 2025.

“The city of Hemet is excited about the opportunity to bring a skate park to the community, and we are working hard to see that this comes to fruition,” Chris Lopez, city manager of Hemet, said. “With the approval of council, our teams are moving quickly to complete our application as well as bringing a complete design to the community.”

In previous meetings, council members praised Wright for her work to form the ad hoc committee, which is made up of residents and city officials, to study the skate park’s feasibility.

The grant application is due Dec. 14, and the city will receive notification by summer 2021. The Statewide Park Development and Community Revitalization Program Grant Program is funded under Proposition 68 and will distribute $395.3 million for eligible parks projects during the fourth round of funding. The grant funding was first envisioned when California voters passed the California Drought, Water, Parks, Climate, Coastal Protection and Outdoor Access for All Act of 2018, Proposition 68, June 5, 2018.

The Statewide Park Program is a competitive grant that offers agencies funding of up to $8.5 million per park for projects that create, expand or renovate at least one recreation feature in a severely underserved community. The funding offers 100% reimbursement of project costs for severely disadvantaged communities, and Hemet qualifies.

The grant performance period calls for completion of construction of any awarded project by March 2025 and requires that grantees ensure operation and maintenance of the project site for 30 years.

Tony Ault can be reached by email at tault@reedermedia.com.