When Caltrans tore down the Bordertown skate park late last November, it looked as though the long-fought battle to save the illegally built park had finally come to an end. But it turns out Caltrans’ demolition of the popular West Oakland skate spot hasn’t completely crushed the spirits of its supporters. Since the dust settled, a number of Bordertown loyalists have been working to drum up funding and support to erect a new, legitimate skate park from the former’s ashes.
In March, 24-year old skateboarder Lauren Stocker helped secure a $5,000 grant from the Tony Hawk Foundation in the name of the park’s nonprofit, Bordertown Skatepark Inc. She and other stalwart skateboarders hope to eventually put those funds toward the construction of a 10,000-square-foot skate park under the Macarthur Maze, in the same location as the original park. But so far, that money is all nonprofit has in its reserves—and while Stocker has applied for a handful of other grants, she acknowledged that there’s still much money to be raised and work to be done. She estimated that a new park could cost anywhere from $150,000 to $300,000. “What we have is pennies in comparison to what we need,” she said. “That being said, we’re totally grateful for the grant, but we need a lot more funding.”
The Bordertown group has been talking with Caltrans officials and representatives from the cities of Emeryville and Oakland about rebuilding an up-to-code park on the Caltrans-controlled property, and Stocker said that Oakland officials seem supportive of the plan—as long as the city isn’t expected to supply financial support. The group hopes to offset some of the project’s costs by soliciting volunteer contractors to supply blueprints and other engineering help.
Aside from the financial hurdles, Stocker said Councilwoman Nancy Nadel has voiced concerns over potential carbon monoxide fumes under the bridge, though she added that Bordertown representatives are already exploring affordable ways to reduce such fumes with help from Oakland-based environmental nonprofit Urban Releaf.
And it appears that Caltrans is open to the idea as well. According to public information officer Bob Haus, the agency doesn’t have any “flat-out objection to a skate park being built in the same place, but we do have to have some sort of local sponsorship. So the city definitely has to be on board first.” So while the wheels are definitely turning, it could be a while before a new Bordertown is born.