With initial design for the Northeast Regional skatepark complete, funding for it’s construction was not guaranteed until voters overwhelmingly supported (75% in favor) passage of the Proposition 1 Quality of Life Bond initiative at the polls on November 6, 2012.
“EPSA promoted Vote Yes on Prop 1 vigorously,” said El Paso Skatepark Association (EPSA) board member/local skate legend Jaime Favela. “We feared controversy from the downtown ballpark project (funded by city council without voter approval) might create a backlash against funding for other public projects for neighborhoods.”
Proposition 1 authorized the issuance of $245 million of general obligation bonds for parks, recreation, open space and zoo improvements.
In addition to Northeast Regional construction, the City of El Paso’s 3-year rollout plan for bond projects also includes funding for the design of two eastside skateparks at Hueco (Eastside) Regional and a concrete /conversion upgrade for the metal ramps at Dick Shinaut Park.
California Skateparks, the same company that makes X-Games courses, was hired to all the specialty concrete builds.
“We started on this project more than 3 years ago,” said a very proud District 5 (northeast) City Representative Carl
Robinson at a June 12, 2013 ceremony to kickoff construction.
Using public input acquired from 2 design meetings with local skaters in October and December 2011, Site Design Group created the world-class layout which features an Etnies capsule replica, vert bowl, snake run and modern street course.
“Snake runs are making a big comeback, just look at the parks in Arvada, Colorado, Venice Beach and now here,”
said El Paso Skatepark Association (EPSA) board member/local skate legend Jaime Favela.
“It pays homage to the snake runs we had here in the late 1970’s with Desert Surfing and Earth Surf skateboard park. Now, a new generation of skaters will get a taste – snakers are great fun and really good for beginners to learn how to pump and carve on.”
The City of El Paso folks proudly promoted Northeast Regional in their “Building Tommorrow Together” campaign.
Here’s the final 3D rendering after several rounds of refining the layout with SITE Design Group – the snake run bowl was separated from the big flow bowl. A doorway, instead of a steep ant hill, connects the big flow bowl to the vert bowl.
The first shotcrete went down late December 2013, just before the California Skateparks crew broke for Christmas.
Strategically, the flat-bottom would not get concrete until several months later to avoid poaching….right?
Search the internet hard enough and you’ll find photos of our buddy Ryan Armendariz who made a Christmas trip home from Albuquerque to claim some sketchy first grinds sans flat-bottom at the unfinished park.
With the construction plans 90% complete, EPSA noticed that the City engineering folks decided to eliminate all pool coping and tiles from the design claiming long-term maintenance headaches.
EPSA immediately called City Rep Carl Robinson who stepped up and ordered a special meeting with the city department heads from engineering, parks and general services.
When the dust settled, all parties agreed to the EPSA-offered solution of stamping the tiles (maintenance free) and placing pool coping blocks in select areas on bigger walls (harder to power grind and destroy.)
The tipping point for keeping the pool coping?
EPSA was able to show Tedder Stone spec sheets indicating the pounds per square inch (PSI) fracture point of a skatepark-specific pool coping product (like Tedder Stone or Golden State) tested at 9 to 12-thousand PSI – as much as 3 times harder than the 4-thousand PSI of skatepark shotcrete. Thanks to Phil Tedder for the help on this one!
For a stronger bond, California Skateparks attached the coping blocks with a 2-part epoxy instead of traditional mortar which can sometimes result in popped-blocks.
Building the big flow bowl and especially the Etnies cradle replica is a fascinating, multi-step process. Thankfully, CA Skateparks built the original Etnies cradle – this wasn’t their first rodeo!
Step 1 is to build the concrete bottom half of the cradle. Step 2 involved building the cradle top’s “back form” metal frame on the existing concrete rim. Step 3 involved shooting/finishing shotcrete and ultimately removing all the crazy formwork.
We had full confidence in CA Skateparks Project Manager Mario Rodriguez. He was super-friendly, an expert concrete man, and came off more debonair than Ricky Ricardo (an “I Love Lucy” 1950’s TV show reference for all you young-uns!)
By April 2014, California Skateparks had wrapped up construction.
Unfortunately, the skatepark opening was delayed for 3 months, leaving impatient skaters on edge staring at an awesome finished park, the temporary construction fence up, and a security guard on-site to shoo-away poachers.
Why the delay?
Apparently, City folks called for an 11th hour “do-over” on the big bowl drain design – this meant re-digging a 20-plus foot deep hole and replacing pipe parts to allow for better maintenance. Then, there was some kind of lingering delay on the main park’s marquee sign – the full scope of the project included not only the skatepark build, but also a parking lot, ponding areas, landscaping and a marquee sign. And the City doesn’t like to “buy” projects from the contractor until it’s “completely” finished.
The skatepark finally opened on June 12, 2014. Hundreds of skaters, bikers, City officials, various project contributors and other lurkers showed up for the grand opening ceremonial speeches and a ribbon cutting.
The El Paso Times showed up to cover the grand opening ceremonies.
Diego Alvarado (not Joe Vargas) get the big feature photo in the Borderland section with this frontside blast in the 11.5 foot deep vert bowl.
El Paso vert ramp legend Anguelo Salgado pushed hard for the deep terrain during the design process saying “we need this.”
Future vert rippers like Will Cortez agree after throwing huge frontside stalefish airs on the face wall at For The Love contest.
Some folks were critical, saying the skatepark was “too big” – nonsense!
Others, like local BMX rider Ray Varela, are quick to disprove those small-thinking notions, captured here speeding upside down in the cradle well above the 10 o’clock tile line. Photo credit: John Martinez.
Notably, the City’s original skatepark rules signs did not permit bikes at Northeast Regional. But the cops dismissed the idea of enforcing the no-bike mandate, saying they had more important matters to tend to…
All ambiguity ended in late 2015. Thanks to a strong recommendation from EPSA, Parks has since recanted on BMX restrictions and come back with a more inclusive policy and new rules signage at NE Regional.
No, it’s not swim in the skatepark pool day.
The NOAA estimates some counties in West Texas received 10 to 20 inches of rain in the one-week period from Sept. 15-22.
Severe flash flooding in Northeast El Paso on Monday morning Sept. 22 saw muddy waters filling the skatepark to the brim.
Photo credit: Phil Sullivan
On May 2, 2015, the Blood Wizard crew comprised of Chriss Gregson, Tristen Moss, Jerry Gurney, Anakin Senn, Drew Dezort and Jack Given inspired locals with a pro skate demo at NE Regional. These guys ripped hard!
In classic rock star fashion, Gurney and Gregson wrapped the El Paso leg of their #TexMexWizardTrip with a product toss from atop their trusty transport. Photo: Steven Levas.
More mania always at BloodWizard.com.
Northeast Regional skatepark is located near the major intersection of McCombs/U.S. 54 – look for the softball field light poles and you’re almost there.
Original park address was 11270 McCombs, but most newer listings show the new address ofive.
When entering Northeast Regional, go left at the roundabout circle and you’ll find the skatepark tucked in the corner.