New Aptos Skate Park is a Dream Come True
By Kevin Painchaud
It took a dozen years and a lot of help from local contributors, but Tricia Proctor and Marie Martorella, made a difference in hundreds of kids’ lives by building a skatepark in Aptos that can be used by all levels of skaters.
Proctor and Martorella, of Capitola, had children who loved to skateboard. As with most cities, skateboarding is banned in most public places. Without many options, Tricia and Marie (who are sisters-in-law) looked to find a solution.
They approached Capitola with the idea of building a skate park. The city liked the idea and told Tricia and Marie to find a suitable location to build the park. Along with four other moms they went door-to-door throughout the neighborhood of New Brighton. They ideally wanted to build the skate park in a section of Monterey Avenue Park. The park is next to a school and two churches. It has a soccer field and a baseball field. It also has good visibility from the street. “It was a perfect locations,” says Proctor. They even had the support from most of the community in the New Brighton neighborhood.
The only thing it was lacking was the funding. Tricia decided to ask her uncle Richard Novak for help. Back in 1973, Novak started the legendary company Santa Cruz Skateboards. He was raised in Capitola, and wanted to give back to the community.
He called on the Tony Hawk Foundation, which helps communities set up public skateboard parks. for guidance.
Next they needed plans for the park. They contacted Dreamland Skate Parks. Dreamland designs and builds skateparks worldwide and designed a course that was ideal for beginner and intermediate skaters. They presented the park to the planning commission, and then the City Council. They were approved by both. Everything was in place for this skatepark to be built.
”We’d be three deep at the Capitola chamber meeting with kids going to the podium asking the council members to approve the project. The community really rallied around that project,” says Proctor.
But because of an unfortunate typo a city attorney made in the meeting agenda, and a lawsuit by a few neighbors who were opposed to the park, all the momentum that they had gained to get their skatepark approved had lost its steam. In the time it took to navigate the legal solution to the typo and be presented back to the Council again for a re-vote, a new City Council member, Kristen Petersen, who had previously told Novak that she would support the park, was voted in. “She voted no… her no vote killed it completely,” says Proctor. Martorella added, “We were trying to give back to the community, to the families in this community, and that’s the thanks that we get? It killed us.”
Fast forward a few months later, Richard Novak was speaking to a volunteer at the Saint John’s Church in Aptos named Bill Kell. Kell is good friends with philanthropist Rowland Rebele, who had just donated a large amount of money to St. John’s Church to endow a full-time position to oversee a community youth program in Aptos. This group of three (Novak, Kell and Rebele) had a passion for creating programs for kids. The three of them, with the help of the county parks Director, Jeff Gaffney, presented the idea of building the skatepark in Aptos to County Supervisor, Zach Friend.
“He totally walked this thing through,” said Novak. “When things got out of line, he batted it back into place. It was really neat working with him. He was very helpful.”
The team continued to grow. Deborah Bredy, from Bredy Construction partnered with Dreamland Skateparks in the building of the park; Ben Strock from Strock Realty was going to fund the landscape; and the nonprofit, Friends of Santa Cruz County Parks came onboard as a conduit for the County/Private endeavor given their relationship with the County after successfully completing a recent project – Leo’s Haven. Novak states, “By having the park already approved, and by using private money, we aren’t construed with all the county bureaucracy.”
It took only 14 months from the time that Novak had his first conversation with Bill Kell, until the first skaters were dropping into the new skateable art features of the Seacliff Skatepark located at The Seacliff Village County Park at McGregor Drive in Aptos.