Riding In The Desert: How skating culture has grown within Yuma
Skateboarding has grown into a pastime across the country, and throughout the years the same has happened locally – 13 On Your Side’s Luis Lopez reports
YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) – Skateboarding has now blossomed into an American pastime, including right here in the Desert Southwest.
Where local cities are even getting involved in the sport.
Adults like Nicholas Meza have been skating in Yuma since the 90’s.
“You know, in the beginning, skateboarding was more of a street culture thing but it’s transformed now into an American pastime really,” Meza said.
Quietly, Yuma has grown a skating community spanning all ages, from kids, to adults.
Being someone who’s seen the community grow locally first hand, he’s seen plenty of change.
“Before the park was built, we would just roll around, if anybody remembers the old downtown area with the circle stage, they had a big bank in front of Lute’s casino we used to spend a lot of time down there,” Meza said.
The park Meza is talking about is the Kennedy Skate Park, which has been around for over 20 years.
While still a nice option for local skaters, it’s age has started to show.
“Drainage, some of the sand, there’s a sprinkler busted over here, so it’s just throwing rocks and sand all over the concrete,” Meza said.
And those aren’t even among the most dangerous issues.
“The cracks, some of the concrete is separating, and so the cracks are a lot bigger than they should be, just enough to get your wheel stuck,” Meza said.
However, with the sport’s evolution has come public support.
As the city will be completely renovating the park within the next few years.
Yuma Parks and Recreation director Eric Urfer in among those involved with the project.
“The skatepark itself, was really identified, out of the skaters, they came to the city, identified the need, and then we started looking into the project,” Urfer said.
As the park is still being designed, skaters from across the community have been offering input on what features should be added.
“It’s been awesome, the turnout has been great, and the feedback has been even better, so truly what we’re going to end up with is a skating park that’s designed for the skaters by the skaters,” Urfer said.
And just how much financial support is the city offering for these skaters?
“For this particular project, the rough estimate is $2.5 million dollars,” Urfer said.
The Parks and Recreation department says the money is coming from the federal government.
Specifically, money from the American Rescue Plan Act, and because that’s a grant, it’s coming at no cost to local taxpayers.
Regardless, skaters like Meza are proud to see the investment.
“It’s actually been really nice, in the past, it’s been kind of hard to get the proper attention on what we needed and so it’s really encouraging to see the city wanting to be more involved in what’s happening,” Meza said.
As for now, the park is still being used in its old form and even without the renovations, the community is what still makes it special.
“That’s one of the best things about skateboarding, is, it’s personal like you have to work on your own thing, but then there’s a community of supporting your uniqueness in whatever you’re doing,” Meza said.