An all-wheel pump track is coming to Livermore's Sunken Gardens Skate Park in 2023, following the Livermore Area Recreation and Park District board's unanimous approval of the project last month.
Construction on the track is scheduled to begin next month at the park located at 3800 Pacific Ave., situated just behind East Avenue Middle School.
The project is expected to take about three months to complete at a cost of $839,344.25. Spohn Ranch, a skate park design and construction firm based in Southern California, is the vendor selected by LARPD to build the track.
Pleasanton-based O'Dell Engineering assisted LARPD with the design and engineering specifications of the project. The firm will also continue to project manage the effort along with Fred Haldeman, LARPD’s parks and facilities manager, according to an LARPD staff report.
The forthcoming track is the result of a years-long community effort initiated by Mike Ralph -- a Livermore resident, bike industry professional and new LARPD Foundation trustee. Members of the biking and skating community along with local skate businesses and bike shops also threw their support behind the initiative.
Ralph said that spreading awareness and conveying the need for the track was a challenge throughout the process. "As bike parks and pump tracks are growing quite a bit around the country, it's still not on everybody's radar. It's not like a tennis court or a pickleball court," he said, adding:
"It appeals to kind of a niche of the community, so I always approach this as something for everybody." He also noted that the goal of inclusivity is why the new track is friendly for all wheels.
"Most pump tracks are dirt and built for bikes but this being a cement park will appeal to roller skaters, skateboarders, scooters and wheelchairs," Ralph said.
The existing facility is Livermore's only skate park and currently features ramps and a stunt course for bicycles, skateboards and scooters. However, Ralph told Livermore Vine that as one of the most-used park facilities in town, it often gets very crowded with riders which is one of the top reasons the new track is needed.
The initial idea for the addition to the skate park was sparked about nine years ago when Ralph would walk his dogs nearby and he noticed the big empty field where people would build makeshift bike jumps out of dirt. "They would build them and then (LARPD) would come through and flatten them because it's just such a big liability."
Seeing this prompted Ralph to schedule a meeting with the LARPD general manager at the time and propose a formal, safer bike park. He was advised to do some research on how other cities approach this type of project. After visiting other bike parks throughout the state and gathering information, he put together a report with another community member detailing what it would take to bring a bike park to Livermore.
Due to a number of delays -- including transitions within LARPD leadership and the COVID-19 pandemic -- the project was stalled for a number of years until finally receiving the green light at the LARPD board's Nov. 9 meeting.
The project has been found to align with the California Environmental Quality Act guidelines and includes considerations for the surrounding neighbors. For example, the track will not have lights, according to Ralph. "It's going to be a great asset to the community for years," he said.