It was time to celebrate on Saturday as city officials joined with skateboard enthusiasts to break ground on an $800,000 skate plaza that will be built in Peck Park in San Pedro.
Dozens of skateboarders did flips and other stunts on a half-pipe set up for the occasion, while a band played and everyone enjoyed free hot dogs.
"It's finally happening," said Andy Harris, who heads up the volunteer San Pedro Skatepark Association.
The facility had strong backing from the Northwest San Pedro Neighborhood Council, whose members also were on hand to mark the milestone.
"It's almost record time for the city," council President Diana Nave said. "It's been a joy to work on; it happened so easily and quickly."
"This was a commitment I made to these kids a long time ago, even as a police officer," said Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino. He said the city's attention now is turned toward finding a spot for a skate plaza in Harbor City.
While the final planning has gone relatively smoothly, Harris said dreams of a skate plaza within Peck Park at 560 N. Western Ave. actually go back some 15 years.
"I think maybe the people in those (city parks) offices at the time were a lot less open to the idea than the people who are in those offices are now," Harris said. "The attitude toward skateboarding has changed, it's become more acceptable.
Construction is tentatively planned to begin within the next five to six weeks, said Recreation and Parks Planning and Development Superintendent Mike Shull. It is expected to be finished this fall.
That's when the Channel Street skate park on the other side of town is slated to be temporarily closed for a year.
"There's a large group of kids that have come to rely on that place as a haven," Harris said.
If the Peck Park facility opens in time, it will provide an alternative until Channel Street - which is being closed for overpass improvements - reopens. It also will be a draw for Rancho Palos Verdes skaterboarders who are still awaiting a skate plaza on The Hill nearby.
The new 7,600-square-foot outdoor skate plaza will be constructed along the western portion of the park, between the picnic area and Western Avenue.
"It's going to be a good mix of elements that you'd find in the streets, with banks, ledges and railings, but also with a bowl in a swimming pool style," Harris said, adding that it was designed to meet the needs of skaters of all ability levels.
Skateboarder Amaris Sanden, 13, of San Pedro said he and his friends will make good use of the new facility when it opens.
"I haven't really seen what it will look like, but I hope it will include some street skating (elements)," he said.
Harris and other skateboarders worked with city architects on the design elements.
"There's always a lot of back and forth when you're designing something as complex as a skate park," Harris said. "It's not like designing something like a baseball diamond or a basketball court."
Working with those who will be using the facility "delayed the process, but in a good way," Nave said. "They got really specific in the design, these kids know to the micro-inch exactly how they wanted things designed."
Financing came from city Quimby funds, fees collected from developers to provide more parks and open space.
The Tony Hawk Foundation also donated $27,000 toward the project, bringing with it recognition from the esteemed skateboarding legend.
City officials presented a concept plan for the new plaza in January 2012 following discussions in 2011 about the anticipated Channel Street skate park closure.
While it may not cut down on dangerous skateboarding practices on city streets, the plaza will offer a much-needed outlet for area skaters, Nave said.
And judging from the crowds that turned out for Saturday's groundbreaking, its construction will be much anticipated.
"We're very excited for the opportunities it will provide for skateboarders to have an additional venue," Nave said.