Contractors break ground at Randall Skate Park


This month, construction workers broke ground on the George and Darlene Randall Skate Park, which was originally a county approved idea, more than 20 years ago.

The County of Kern approved the name for the park in 2016, because the Randalls did many things to serve the Kern Valley community, according to Teresa Contreras, founder of the Kern River Skate Park Committee, which raised the money to pursue the project.

“It took our group eight years. It was actually started back in 2002 with the county.

But there have been, I believe, like three efforts to do it (the skate park) and our group has been doing it for eight years,” Contreras said. 

Back in 2002 the County of Kern spent around $50,000 for the skateboard park plan. And then the project ran out of money and just fell through.

Another group raised funds from 2002 until 2008 and the group had a lot of problems with permits.  So the group ended up using the money they raised to build a skate park at a local youth center around 2008, Contreras explained. 

In about 2015 Contreras started looking into a skate park because she moved up to the valley from Bakersfield and wondered why the valley did not have one. She contacted the parks department and was told they could still do the project if the public could raise the money.  So she met with the head of the parks department and saw where the park was supposed to be built previously and the head of parks department told her the land would be donated for it if they still wanted to raise the money.

Contreras started doing presentations and met with the district Supervisor. So the County Supervisor planned a community meeting with the parks department wherein Contreras met Karene Williams of the Lake Isabella and Bodfish Property Owners Association and Chris Brayman who helped with the California Reservation Foundation. 

“We formed a small committee. I would say there was probably originally 7 or 8 of us. But we got down to about 5 of us that stuck with us for the past eight years.” She said. 

“Karene was with the committee from the very very beginning.  We fundraised under the California Recreation Foundation, which is a non profit directed by Chuck Richards. And Karene was our treasurer for our group.” 

The group had a few anonymous donations at the outset; one was for $15,000 and another for $19,000. Williams, who was the backbone for the project all along, put out jars at 15 or 20 businesses annually to collect donations. Williams also wrote and applied for grants and attempted to raise money from various sources.  “At the end we got a Community Block Development Grant (from the County of Kern) and that really was what put us over the top.  We got a couple other grants.”

Contreras said the group faced quite a bit of negativity from the public because of how long the project was taking.

“The past two years we’ve just been waiting on the county.” she said.  “Finally it just came through one day. So it was really exciting that it actually happened.”

Contreras said she was grateful to the businesses, and those filling the jars at local businesses, as well as individual donors who donated to the project, over the years.  

Contreras clarified that the ball field would continue to be called the Linda Kissack Ballfield.  The entire park is not being renamed, just the skate park. 

The county dated the project to be finished by the end of the year. However the committee expects it to be done much sooner.

For the project there are two different designers and will be several different companies working on construction, with Spohn Ranch Skate Parks as the subcontractor, according to Contreras.  

Committee members on the committee were Karene Williams, Christopher Brayman, Tanya Barling, Jon Ream, and Becky Starr-Harris.