FREMONT -- Construction of the city's new skate park has been as challenging and unpredictable as riding a skateboard on one of its advanced-level ramps.
The good news is, after delays stemming from a lawsuit and construction issues, the long-awaited facility is just days away from opening on the southwest corner of Central Park, city officials said. The $1.4 million construction job is nearly complete, as employees and city inspectors are finishing work on the area's fencing, irrigation and other small but important details, said Kelly King, Fremont's recreation superintendent.
"We're as excited as anyone to get it open," he said. "But we want to be sure our i's are dotted and t's are crossed, so that when we do open we'll be ready to go without interruption."
The grand opening is scheduled for June 19. But a soft opening may come as early next week and, after years of waiting, local skateboarders are chomping at the bit, said Donna Wies, member of Friends of the Fremont Skate Park.
"It's like a mirage right now. It looks like a finished skate park, but it's not done yet," said Wies, who got involved in advocating for the park to support her son's love of skateboarding. "You can imagine how tempting it is for kids to climb that chain-link fence, but we've asked them to be patient."
Fremont has been without a skate park since 2009, when its temporary wooden facility closed because of its dilapidated condition, said Roger Ravenstad, Fremont's senior landscape architect.
"It was built in 1999 and intended to be a temporary facility for just five years," he said. "After 10 years, it was falling apart."
City leaders hoped the skateboarding park would be built as early as 2011, but it was delayed, in part, by a lawsuit filed by neighbors living near Central Park. The plaintiffs argued that Fremont's environmental report was inadequate and asked that the facility be moved to a different part of Central Park. City officials agreed to perform another environmental study, while keeping its location next to the water park on Paseo Padre Parkway, Ravenstad said. "Instead of fighting, we agreed to redo it," he said. "But we missed a construction season."
Also, the project's completion recently was delayed by three months because its San Bruno-based contractor, Star Construction, Inc., was running late, Ravenstad said. "There's little the city can do to make the contractor go faster," he said.
A message left for Star Construction Inc. for this story was not returned.
The facility was designed and partly built by Wally Hollyday, a Southern California park designer considered one of the best in the business. "His responsiveness and depth of knowledge made him a pleasure to work with," Ravenstad said.
The versatile park has features for novices, skateboarders with expert skills and just about anyone in between, said Jordan Richter, a Union City professional skateboarder and coach.
The beginner section features a small bowl where new skateboarders can develop their fundamentals, Richter said. They then can graduate to a host of more challenging areas, such as a street course that offers hand rails and planter ledges or a bigger bowl with a "snake run," which allows skateboarders to pick up speed while zigzagging through twisting terrain.
Richter said that once the park opens it will be known as one of Northern California's premier facilities. "It's a far better design than the wood park that was here before," he said. "This is probably the best skate park I've seen in a long time."
Contact Chris De Benedetti at 510-353-7011. Follow him at Twitter.com/cdebenedetti.