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SOMA skatepark closes in on final approval

Build it, and they will come.

Skateboarders, that is, to a now-vacant under a Central Freeway overpass in SOMA that could soon be transformed into into a skate and dog park.

After eight long years of lease disagreement between the state and city agencies, peace has finally been made. The City signed a $10,000 a month lease with Caltrans, agreeing to rent out the space at Duboce Avenue between Valencia and Stevenson streets.

The new site, referred to as the the Caltrans/Duboce/SOMA West Skatepark, will be The City’s fifth permanent skatepark.

Construction could begin in May and could be finished by the end of the year, spokeswoman for the Public Works Department (which is building the park), Rachel Gordon, told the San Francisco Examiner.

President of the San Francisco Skateboarding Association, Bryan Hornbeck, first lobbied for the park at this location in 2005, and called the new park a “once-in-a-generation” project. He added to the Examiner:

“We’ve never had a park with these features in the middle of The City, where everyone … can come and skate.”

These features includes banked ledges, stairs, rails and rolling ramps that will accomodate skaters of all skill levels. The new park will set itself apart from The City’s other skate parks, with good lighting, supervision and no BMX riders allowed.

The SFDPW’s design also plans for “opportunities to integrate Art, Culture, etc.” and mandates that the park must have a “unique ‘sense of place.’”

It seems that The City and its residents hope that the park will be more than just a place for teenagers to grind rail and hit 360’s.

Neighborhood activist Lynn Valente believes that the park, as a space for both skaters and dogs, will be a boon to a neighborhood that struggles because of the divisive presence of the Central Freeway. She told the Examiner:

“This is a twofold benefit to the neighborhood. We need more places for kids and young adults to recreate, and this will help cut down on the crime and grime that is prevalent under the freeway now.”

The terms of creating the park? Caltrans will receive $10,000 a month for 20 years, with rent increasing by 2 percent every year. The Recreation and Park Department, who will head up park maintenance, will pay $85,000 a year for the site and Public Works will shell out $66,000 a year.

Rec and Park gave preliminary approval last week, and the agreement will be introduced to the Board of Supervisors at a land use committee meeting Monday. Skaters and dogwalkers, stay tuned.

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