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Monday, October 24, 2011
Bordertown rebuilt

By Keith Hamm
ESPN.com

Transfer to wallride at NorCal's Bordertown skatepark.

As the illegally built Bordertown skatepark in northern California sits on death row, local skateboarders have been lobbying for a stay of execution. And late last week, a representative from the park met with officials from the state agency that owns the property.

Primarily citing liability issues, officials with Caltrans, the state's transportation authority, announced in August that Bordertown would be demolished sometime in September. Since then, one skater in particular has been attempting to drum up the support of Bay Area elected officials and lock down that eleventh-hour meeting with Caltrans.

"There was some good news and some bad news," Lauren Stocker, 24, told ESPN after her Oct. 21 meeting with Caltrans spokesperson Bob Haus and Brigetta Smith, the deputy district director of external affairs. "They told me that the park is definitely getting torn out, but they also said they'll let us build a new park in its place, as long as it's done properly [according to state building code]."

"Basically, none of the park is up to code," Stocker added. "So they're pretty much going to be tearing out everything. It's pretty heart-wrenching."

Spokesperson Haus did not return calls for comment.

Financed and hand-built by local skateboarders over the past seven years, the 2,500-square-foot concrete park, situated under a bridge on the Oakland-Emeryville border, has survived Caltrans' demolition plans in the past, most notably about five years ago. That's when Representative Barbara Boxer toured the DIY skatepark and commended its builders for cleaning up a notoriously rough part of town while providing a recreational outlet for the neighborhood's young men and women.

"[Caltrans has] been saying that they're going to tear it out for a long time," says 35-year-old Antihero pro and Bordertown local Tony Miorana. "I haven't quite given up on it yet. But I'd be super bummed if it's gone."

Per Caltrans stipulations, Bordertown must maintain liability insurance and produce an approved set of plans for the new park. Miorana says those blueprints are already in hand, having been drawn up a few years back -- for $14,000 -- during a previous demolition scare. "We could build something epic there right now, we just need a general contractor to sign off on it."

Stocker said that Haus and Smith could not pinpoint exactly when Bordertown will be demolished but they did say they'd give the skaters a 72-hour heads-up.

"I'm assuming it will be before the end of the month," Stocker said.