Kids need parks. They need safe, fun, and creative places to explore. And yet, according to the Trust for Public Land, nearly 28 million kids don’t have a park within a 10-minute walk of home.
In the Ski Run neighborhood of South Lake Tahoe, these aren’t just statistics, they are the lived experience of more than 4,000 residents, 55 percent of whom are Hispanic/Latino. There are over a thousand kids in the neighborhood with zero park access within a half mile of their homes.
Recognizing the need for a gathering place in the neighborhood, Wynn and Lauren Ruji, Lincoln and Galena Else, Chris and Viktoria McNamara, and Corey and Marina Rich came together under the banner of the non-profit Friends of Ski Run to purchase a 0.57-acre empty lot, with the dream of transforming it into a community park.
The lot was once home to the Slalom Inn, which was demolished in 1999 despite sitting in the center of one of South Lake Tahoe’s most crowded neighborhoods. Since then, the lot has sat vacant and served as an unofficial playfield for the neighborhood.
From the start, Friends of Ski Run worked to bring a new approach to park design by giving the biggest voice to the smallest park-goers. Thirty-five kids from Bijou Elementary and the Boys and Girls Club drew sketches of how they envisioned the park, and elements from those drawings were incorporated into the park design. Landscape architect Ben Fish and Sierra Sustainable Builders are turning the kids’ vision into reality.
Local partners like SOS Outreach, Barton Health, Heavenly, and League to Save Lake Tahoe are supporting the park by creating historical and environmental education signage, offering bilingual education workshops on exercise, health, and nutrition, and organizing neighborhood clean ups.
There’s still a chance for you to be part of this community effort. Give today to help us build Ski Run Community Park and pave the path for more community parks in Tahoe.