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'Some called it home': Local skate park demolished after residents complain

Posted: 5:53 PM, Jul 19, 2019
Updated: 2019-07-19 20:53:25-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — A skate park that brought people from all around the country here to Bakersfield is now nothing more than a dirt lot.

Local skateboarders from Bakersfield reached out to 23ABC after they found out their favorite skate park, many of them help build, was getting demolished.

"'Kern side' we called it," east-side skateboarder Ivan Esquivias explained. "Some they called it home, for some of us you know it was a place we took refuge, our oasis, it was just a little cool spot you could come kick it and just avoid everything that's just going on out there."

Since 2011 this is where many local northeast Bakersfield skateboarders made most of their memories with their friends, but now that's all it will be, a simple memory many like Esquivias will hold close.

"It's sad you know it's gone," Esquivias said.

The owner of the property John Madonna, lives in San Luis Obispo and was unable to go on camera.

He said he was given notice by the City of Bakersfield in June that he had two weeks to tear down the makeshift skate park that was built on his property because residents who lived around the area were complaining it was a nuisance.

However, Madonna told 23ABC News he had no idea there was a skate park built on the old ranch house property he purchased in a tax auction years ago.

"What was left was just the foundation I think it was just a concrete floor and then from then on a skater would add to it whether it was a quarter pipe, or some parking curb or stuff like that," Esquivias said.

The base of an old home in northeast Bakersfield transforming into an illegal do it yourself project built by local skateboarders in the community just so that they could have a place to skate.

"A lot of skaters put their own blood sweat and tears into this," Esquivias said.

The skate park quickly began to pick up traction and notoriety. Many pro-skater stopping by to contribute concrete or a new ramp.

Kernside Skate Park landed in well know skateboard publications like Lowcard Mag and was featured in a Santa Cruz skateboard company film along with many others on YouTube.

The skate park generated it's own hashtag on Instagram with thousands of posts and videos, even some enthusiasts creating Kernside merchandise like stickers that were circulating on social media.

Esquivas said he met professional skateboarders from all over the country at the Bakersfield skate park in his backyard.

"This is a landmark, this is one of the main attractions in the skate community as far as Bakersfield,"Esquivias added. "We would have people caravanning from New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, all over northeast, southwest they would just come here."

A residential zone turned skate zone that survived under the radar for almost an entire decade that was an escape that helped keep Esquivias out of trouble during his adolescent years.

However, it's returned to a dirt lot after the owner tore it down and skaters like Esquivias are just hoping the county decides to build another skate park on the east side of Bakersfield.

"There are not a lot of skate parks on this side of town, the nearest one is the one on Mt. Vernon called Heritage Skate Park so it would be really helpful if we had a skate park far east," Esquivias said.

The owner of the property told 23ABC he was devastated that he couldn't sell the property back to the skaters or figure out a way to keep it. He told us because of liability costs he couldn't make it happen but he hopes skateboarders on the east side get another skate park because he could tell after visiting the lot that it was a staple in the skateboard community.