In October 2015, EPSA board member Jaime Favela noticed his company Moreno Cardenas Inc. (MCi) was starting construction on the El Paso Water Utilities Pollard Street pond project that included a redo of the existing small concrete storm water channel.

It’s “double driveway down” design (used for getting trucks down in there for ditch maintenance) made it inherently attractive for skateboarding due to multiple banked faces and elevation changes. The question was “could we somehow make it even more skate friendly” in the 11th hour?

2015 10 15 pollard site favela

Scouting

The original Pollard ditch and surrounding area was a scary mess, essentially a big fat field of weeds and dirt.  But according to Favela, it used to be quite the skate spot.

He tells some crazy tales about a big skateboard contest that went down here in the late 1970’s downstream where the ditch bowls left.

Legend has it that Desert Surfing pro Scott Mayo ran power for a nearby casa to power the toons and Cliff Everett won the event with an array of bert slides and other radical surf-inspired maneuvers.

The first point of action was to meet with MCi engineer Marcos Medina, the guy drawing the construction plans, to check the viability of any late amendments to his project.  With discussions taking place over a spicy Mexican food at Dona Lupe Cafe, Medina endorsed the EPSA skate friendly idea on the condition of that “no cost would be added.”

Cautious but open-minded, Medina felt the Pollard ditch redo would be a good fit for skateboarding because (1) there is no big volume storm water feeder ditch going into Pollard and (2) there was going to be a grassy, family-friendly pond park area built adjacent.

Stormwater improvements

The Pollard Pond Improvements project was one of almost 100 projects recommended to improve flood control in watersheds throughout the City of El Paso.

The El Paso Stormwater Master Plan, approved by the Public Service Board and City Council in 2009, lays out the capital improvement projects (including bigger culverts and reservoirs) that prepare the city for major rain events and focuses on areas where flood risk is particularly high.

 

With Medina’s backing and a no-added cost strategy, EPSA reached out to the EPWU boss John Balliew saying we believe by simply doing a steel trowel or very light broom (instead of the standard broom finish) and rounding off the concrete a bit at the bottom of the bank, this place could be an awesome skate spot for our community’s youth.

Balliew, a key player in our first EPWU skate-friendly project at Van Buren Dam, came back with big thumbs up!

2015 11 24 pollard concrete day1

CSA Constructors

EPSA was quickly invited to attend a pre-construction meeting on the concrete channel. Turns out CSA Constructors was the builder, same team that built Westside Community Skatepark back in 2009.

Working with Bobby Stallard and on-site crew chief Jorge, we came up with a quick and dirty plan to form up butter bottoms with the first pour going down on November 24, 2015 – only one month after getting green-lighted by EPWU.

2015 11 24 pollard finisher charlie

Charlie

The CSA game plan was simple – 3 massive, monolithic pours and done. Of course, this puts a lot more pressure on the finishers to control the mud from placement to finish trowel.

Luckily, there was a really cool cat name Charlie working on the crew who took a lot of pride in his work and it showed.  Here “Charlie concrete” doing his thing with an EPSA sticker on his hard hat – thanks bro!

 

 

 

KVIA-TV coverage

One news media outlet showed up in the middle of the all the muddy mess to do a feature story.

ABC-7 crews took a few job site shots, went to the EPSA website for context and did an excellent interview EPWU’s Alan Shubert on the viability of these dual-purpose ditch projects.

Get there

The Pollard ditch is located where Hamilton Avenue “T-bones” Pollard Street right next to the US-54 South freeway.

In El Paso speak, it’s really close the Chicos Tacos on Dyer Street…

FYI – this Google Earth image is of the “old” ditch prior to the rebuild.