Councilmember Bernard Parks breaks ground on a new skate park in South Los Angeles

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Council member Bernard Parks and Parks and Recreation Superintendent Mark Mariscal broke ground today on a new skate park in the Jackie Tatum Harvard Recreation Center in South Los Angeles.

The Jackie Tatum Recreation Center has seen a lot of improvements recently. A brand new swimming pool, repainted tennis courts, and even an aerobics class. But there was one thing the community youth kept asking for - a skate park.

"This is something that has really been long awaited by the community,"said Parks.

"The young kids have asked that every park have a skate park, and the problem is that we can't put one at every park, so we kind of direct them and say wait three months."

The skate park will take about three months to build, and word is quickly spreading.

"We've already begun to direct kids from other parks," said Parks. "So they'll understand when this opens they're welcome no matter what their neighborhood is."

Parks believes the importance of fully serviced parks is more crucial than ever right now.

"One of the things particularly in these down economic times is people are constantly looking for someplace they can go to without costing them money," said Parks. "Here the community relies on free city services, and they want them to be on the top level, they want them to be safe and they want them to be first class, and that's what these park facilities have done."

Even after the skate park is complete, the upgrade on the Jackie Tatum Rec Center is not over.

"Once the skate park is done the next thing you'll see, and it will probably begin construction in the fall, is a series of outdoor improvements," said Neil Drucker, of the Bureau of Engineering. "We're going to be improving the sports fields, a walking path throughout the park, walking and jogging paths, some exercise stations, a lot of improvements. So this park will be very, very beautiful and serve the entire community."

The skate park is set to be open for use early August 2011.

Bernard Parks Official Website - City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks - Los Angeles Park Foundation: Jackie Tatum Harvard Recreation Center -

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