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Sheldon Skate Park, L.A.'s largest, opens in Sun Valley after 5 years in the making

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Jesse Ruggles of Northridge leaps off the stairs as fellow skaters watch him at Sheldon Skate Park. KYUSUNG GONG, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Local skaters have been hopping the Sheldon Skate Park fence for weeks before Thursday’s official opening, eager to get a first run on the new 25,000-square-foot facility that is now the largest skate park in all of Los Angeles.

When the city finally opened the gates, more than 200 skateboarders descended on the $1.4 million street-style skating facility, which is more than double the size of most of the 21 skate parks managed by the city’s Department of Recreations and Parks.

Geovanny Alvarez, 14, said he began skating two years ago and liked the new park because its size and diverse layout made it friendly to both beginners and experienced riders.

“It has more materials to use, so I can try out new (tricks) that I wouldn’t normally,” Geovanny said. “I like the size because you can pick up speed and catch major air.”

As skaters held trick competitions, break dancers congregated around a disc jockey booth set up for the event, graffiti artists spray-painted large poster boards and U.S. Rep. Tony Cárdenas, D-San Fernando Valley, looked over it all, smiling at a project he began five years ago when he was a Los Angeles City Councilman representing the 6th District.

Back then, he said, people told him he couldn’t legally build the park. But he continued, hosting community meetings to gather input, even soliciting design tips from local children and professional skateboarder Rob Dyrdek.

The project is also the 23rd site to open in the department’s 50 Parks Initiative – an $80.9 million program launched in August 2012 to provide more neighborhood parks in some of the city’s densely populated neighborhoods that lack sufficient open space.

Before the Sun Valley Park opened, the closest skate parks were 3 miles away in Lake View Terrace and 5 miles away in North Hollywood.

“What was once an empty, ugly lot will become an inviting space filled with trees and pathways for our neighbors to walk and kids to play,” said L.A. City Councilwoman Nury Martinez, who currently represents District 6 and lives only a block away from the new facility. “Innovative solutions that both beautify our neighborhoods and give our kids a safe place to skate and make friends are the keys to creating a welcome community for all generations.”

“This is your park,” Martinez said, addressing the hundreds of youth who had come to use the park Thursday. “Take care of it.”

Southeast Valley Skate Park is located at 12477 Sheldon St. It is open daily from sunrise to sunset.

Contact the writer: 818-639-9945 or jgraham@losangelesregister.com

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