Local skateboarders advocate for construction of new skate park in Fairfax

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Toby Gibbons

A young scooterer performs an air drop off a ramp into the twilight at the San Anselmo skatepark. January 22, 2021.

The crackling sound of wheels against wood, the feeling of gliding through the air off a jump, challenging yourself and your friends everyday with new tricks – this is what the skateboarders of Fairfax and West Marin live for. However, skateboarding space is limited. The closest skate park is at Memorial Park in San Anselmo, which becomes crowded quickly and requires a far trek for many. To satisfy the desires of skaters in Fairfax and West Marin, a group of local advocates started a movement to build a skate park in Fairfax.

Steven Teijeiro, a local skater and founder of a brand called “Neighbor Skate Co.,” originally had the idea of advocating for a skate park in Fairfax after realizing that nearly every other town in Marin had one. Teijeiro caught the attention of the Fairfax Town Council and other local skate advocates in 2019. With the support of eight parents, local business owners, and skaters, Teijeiro collected over 100 signatures in just three hours from Fairfax residents in favor of building a skate park.

Despite the positive community support, Teijeiro found that some people were resistant to building a skate park in Fairfax. Business owners worried about their parking spots getting taken by skate park-goers, while others complained about the potential noise of a skate park in a residential area. According to Teijeiro, the skate park committee would work to resolve any conflicts and make compromises with business owners before building.

“When I got to talking to them a little bit and figuring out what their problems were, and how the skate park could actually solve their problems, I was actually able to get their signatures as well,” Teijeiro said.

One Fairfax business owner in favor of the skate park movement is Brenna Gubbins, the owner of Live Water Surf Shop. Teijeiro and the group of skate park advocates contacted Gubbins in November 2020 about their movement. Gubbins, having raised children in Fairfax, noticed a lack of activity opportunities for young people outside of organized sports. She agreed to join the movement.

“It’s always been interesting to go to all these different towns and see all these incredible parks and wonder, why can’t we have one?” Gubbins said.

Since there is currently no skate park in Fairfax, skateboarders usually skate on main streets and parking lots. According to local parent and skate park advocate Andrea Sumits, there is no legal place for people to skate in Fairfax.

“A skate park itself would be the best option because it would be safer and it would channel kids who want to skate in Fairfax to one place where it’s designed for that,” Sumits said.

The skate park movement is in its beginning stages, but members have begun to consider potential locations for the park. According to Teijeiro, some ideas include behind the Central Park baseball field, around Peri Park, and on the small hill adjacent to the Fairfax Market. 

On Thursday, Jan. 20, several local advocates went before the Fairfax Town Council to request their approval of a park and to agree to help them work towards its establishment.

Teens, parents, and other community members voiced their support for the skate park through public comment in the meeting. People argued that it was time-consuming to travel great distances to other skate parks, that skating improves kids’ mental health, and that skate parks foster welcoming community environments. Out of the 40 community members that spoke at the meeting, only one person was against building a new skate park in Fairfax and instead suggested improving upon and expanding the San Anselmo skate park.

After 80 people signed the petition and 60 people wrote to the Council in support of the movement, the response from the Fairfax Town Council was generally positive. Although the council was not able to make significant decisions or advancements towards the permanent building of a skate park at the Jan. 20 meeting, town-owned parcels are being explored for a temporary pilot park. According to councilmember Stephanie Hellman, the members involved with the skate park construction will notify downtown businesses and residents and put up signs around town.

Especially amid COVID-19 lockdowns and safety concerns that restrict teenagers from socializing, many of the skateboarding advocates who spoke at the council meeting emphasized the importance of skateboarding on teenager’s mental and physical health. They said that building a skate park in Fairfax would encourage teens to be physically active, get outside, and take a break from screens.

“This is essential for COVID. Kids don’t have PE, they don’t have a lot of their regular structured sports and activities…[skateboarding] is outdoors, independent, it’s flexible in terms of timing, you can be socially distanced, you’re not touching the same gear…” Sumits said.

Local teens and children feel the same way. According to Reiley Cutcomb, a junior at High School 1327, skateboarding gives him a sense of mental escape during the pandemic.

“I like skateboarding because it lets me let go from the world. When [I’m] feeling [angry] or sad I let it [go] from skating. If I [didn’t] have skating in my life I would feel mentally deranged…” Cutcomb said.

Until the Fairfax Town Council meets again to discuss potential opportunities for a skate park in Fairfax, the local advocacy group will continue to spread the word about their movement on social media and around town.

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