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Lathrop project excites skaters
Designers expect it to rival, if not surpass Ripons
LATHROP LGC1 11-9-13
Diede Construction crews work around part of the skate park section at the Lathrop Generations Center. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

LATHROP – Seth Harper pushed hard with his right leg and steered with his left.

With Lathrop High School disappearing behind him, Harper forced his way down Spartan Drive towards the Lathrop Skate Park – the above-ground, composite-material attraction in the shadow of Lathrop Police Services – as construction crews put more finishing touches on the first major aspect of the Lathrop Generations Center.

He had already stopped to marvel.

Lathrop’s park will boast things like rails and stairs – a street skating course – that are absent from many community skate parks including in Ripon and Manteca. The metal coping in the competition-grade bowl on the eastern edge of the park actually slopes in a “U” shape in two separate sections, and a spine transfer between the other bowl and the “lazy river” section being built specifically for wheelchair-bound riders will add another dimension.

Designers contend it will surpass the Ripon skate park that has been declared one of the best in Northern California by Thrasher Magazine.

Last week the final gunnite wall phases of the expansive skate park were completed. It will allow crews to now pay attention to the more detailed sections of the project. Concrete rail boxes and stairs and sloping embankments will all complement the vertical bowls and pools, and the park, once completed, will replace the difficult-to-maintain above ground section on the opposite side of town that was at one time completely destroyed by vandals and is unfriendly to those on BMX bicycles and scooters.

“You always talk about what it is you want when you’re at the skate park with your boys,” Harper said. “And then you see the work that they’re putting in and that some of those things will be right here for us. I think I’ll definitely skateboard a lot more.”

A $5 million grant will fund the majority of the $6.2 million project. Rather than space out the construction in phases, the city – which mulled several different locations before deciding on the space across from Lathrop High School – plans on opening up the center in its entirety next year.

And some skateboarders just can’t wait until everything is finished.

On-site security has been stepped up after Lathrop’s city construction managers noticed wheel lines in some of the pools – circling around unpoured sections of concrete that had an exposed rebar cage. Skateboarding in public parks is traditionally against local ordinances after the sun goes down, and trespassing on an active construction site can yield criminal charges.

Susanna Medeiros said that while she just started skateboarding and sometimes catches a hard time from the boys at the park she’s looking forward to having a place that will include a landscaped terrace and will likely draw hyper-competitive boarders from throughout Northern California.

“I visited my cousin in the Bay Area and you see guys out there that could be professionals,” she said. “Hopefully those guys will hear about what we’re going to have right here in Lathrop – that our little park here will be something that’s nice and new enough to bring them over.

“It’ll be the place to hang out.”