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Monday, July 28, 2003



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CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
At Sunset Beach, Lucas Hancock skateboards at the home of Steve Ellis, a former professional skater and North Shore restaurateur who says the 100,000-square-foot Banzai Rock site could easily become the world's most famous skate park.



Skate park
proposal
rolls forward

North Shore residents
envision a top-class
skateboard attraction


Just as the Banzai Pipeline provides world-class surf, skateboarders say Sunset Beach's proposed skateboard park will provide world-class skating.

The park's world-renowned designer will ensure a top-notch facility, skateboarders say.

Contractor PER Inc. is working with Dreamland Skateparks, of Oregon, which designed the famed Rattenberg, Austria, park, known for its "cradle" -- a dome-shaped feature skaters ride through. Dreamland's Oregon creations draw skateboarders from across the country.

The skateboard park will be built on 100,000 square feet of city land mauka of Kamehameha Highway across from the Banzai Rock surf spot, next to Pipeline.

Since so many surfers also skateboard, proponents say the Banzai Rock Skateboard Facility's proximity to Pipeline is sure to draw surfer/skaters to the area during the summer months, when surf is down.

Former professional skater and North Shore restaurateur Steve Ellis, who lives near the proposed park, said many skateboarders and surfers who also visit the North Shore because of Pipeline, one of the world's most famous surf spots, and that Banzai Rock could easily become the most famous skate park.

"I think a world-class skate park on the North Shore would have more economic impact on the North Shore compared with other locations on the island," said Ellis.

Kirk Murakami, member of a group of skateboarders called Hawaii Skatepark Association, which has been pushing for better-designed parks, say a world-class skate park will attract more visitors to Hawaii. "Every summer, people from around the world flock to Oregon to skate the best parks in the world," he said. "With Hawaii's superior weather, I'm sure they would come here the rest of the time."

Sunset Beach skateboarder and surfboard shaper Kent Senatore believes the North Shore could use the business during the summer, his business's off-season.

Since the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing is already held on the North Shore for winter surf, he says Vans and other companies would likely sponsor skateboarding competitions at Banzai.

The contractor received the notice to proceed with the design July 7. Construction is expected to begin in November and be completed late next summer.

Dreamland will design a skate park at Waipahu District Park.

City spokeswoman Carol Costa said the $536,300 cost for the 11,300-square-foot Sunset Beach skateboard facility is comparable to other parks built by the city.

"The price might be similar, but the quality is a million times better," said Murakami.

Preliminary drawings showed a "lunar layout with craters and bowls, but really smooth," skateboard competitor Robby Gaskell said. "You can go through the whole park without pushing, without putting your feet on the ground. It's like an endless wave."

Skateboarders applaud the city's efforts in using a design-build process for the skate parks and giving them opportunity to have input into the design.

Costa said the city has learned from each of the previous skate park designs and from the skateboard groups, which are now part of a task force on all the parks. Banzai "has the potential to certainly be the best that we have," she said.

Rick Davis, who has skated Dreamland parks, said the company builds "the kind of park that will be great for the beginner as well as the advanced level, so the beginner will be able to progress to the advanced level."

"The kids here advance so fast because they're so used to surfing the good waves," said Sunset Beach skateboarder Donovaun Matthew, 33.

Community members asked for the skateboard facility at least four years ago, but requests date back to 1976 when a Sunset Beach skateboarder wrote the city, said Matsuura, now aide to Councilman Donovan Dela Cruz.

"It's been too long in the making," said Kathleen Pahinui, chairwoman of the North Shore Neighborhood Board. "I'm glad it's coming to fruition for those kids."

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