Has there ever been a more maligned or misunderstood sport than skateboarding? Think about it. When’s the last time you walked through a public parking lot and saw signs reading, “NO BASEBALL” or “NO TRACK AND FIELD”? How often does mall security chase after kids tossing around a football? Yes, it can be a hard world for a skater to find a place to do the one thing he or she wants to do, skate.
Now Ventura has always been a skateboard kinda town from multiple skate shops over the years to the sorely missed Skate Street, the massive and uber cool indoor skate park that sadly is no more, but one problem still exists despite the town’s deep connection: where exactly to skate.
It’s a problem that’s plagued Chris Long for nearly his whole life.
In the mid-’90s when skateboarding was experiencing a new boom, Long was part of a committee that made a push for the city to build a massive skate park. Though it didn’t come to fruition, partly due to the fact that the previously mentioned Skate Street came in to existence, it did ultimately lead to the three small skate tracks (to call them parks is a stretch) that are currently in Ventura.
Nearly a decade later, Long and fellow skaters emerged again, this time with none other than soon-to-be-famous Skateboard Company mogul Rob Dyrdek, who offered to put up $250,000 if the city would match him to build a state-of-the-art skating facility. Sadly, the city of Ventura did not take him up on his very generous offer and the proposed skate park idea was taken to several other cities where they successfully exist to this day.
Not long after that, the somewhat-dejected Long headed to San Francisco but he never stopped thinking about Ventura and its skate park issues.
Last year, however, when Long returned to Ventura, he was disappointed to find the skate scene not only still didn’t have a full-fledged skate park, the three bowls located in Midtown by the mall, the East End and off the Avenue, had gone into disrepair and the skate community for the most part had abandoned them. In addition the once-massive unity that the scene had in many ways had faded away due to the lack of a central location.
So once again, Long has taken up the cause that’s driven him since a teenager and is lobbying again for the city to build a proper skate park.
This time, though, he’s older and wiser and has few things going for him that didn’t exist the first two times around.
First off, he’s just opened Serio, a skate shop in Midtown that is a true throwback to old school skate shops. Small, stocking indie brands and blasting punk rock, it’s already been a destination for first generation Ventura skaters as well as young kids buying their first decks. The vibe is summed up on the store’s flyers, which states clearly, “no stale vibes.” It’s a meeting place for the skate community and home base for the Ventura Skatepark Improvement Committee (VSIC).
Secondly, two specific plans have been developed. The first is a short term goal, which is to focus solely on the skate track by the mall. Through fundraising and donated construction, Long said that he believes by summer the area could be updated to a first rate park.
The much bigger goal that would obviously involve the local skateboard community working directly with the city is to raise $350,000 to demolish and completely rebuild the three skate parks or even creating a massive park that could handle televised events and national competitions, helping to bring Ventura’s once thriving but now splintered skate community together again.
It’s a lofty goal but Long and fellow skaters are in it for the long haul.
As the passionate Long sums it up, “Now’s the time.”
For more information please visit www.venturaskateparks.org or call Serio at 805-402-7278.
Who’s on first? is a monthly column featuring local sports-related stories.
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