Steamboat Springs Local skateboarders are waiting patiently for the Howelsen Hill Skateboard Park to reopen, knowing it will be a much cooler place when it does.
The park is closed for several weeks while work is under way to expand and make thousands of dollars of renovations and improvements.
When the work is done, the prison-like chain link that used to surround the park will be replaced by a post-and-rail fence. Several pieces of apparatus that have deteriorated over the years and are now deemed unsafe will also be removed and replaced with new equipment.
Plans call for the largest half pipe to be moved off of the park's main concrete pad -- allowing more room to skate -- and for new, street-type obstacles to be added.
Last month, the city used heavy equipment to level out a berm on one side of the park and laid road base to expand the skating area. The new flat spot is where the large half pipe will be moved. Once in position, volunteers plan to repair and improve the structure.
"The plan should double the space at the park," local organizer Josh Kaufman said.
It became apparent last summer that the park, which was built in the early 1990s, needed some work. Skaters started to complain about unsafe ramps and deteriorating conditions around the area.
A joint effort including the city and many local volunteers led to the the improvements taking shape this spring.
"It's been a real combined effort," city parks director Chris Wilson said. "We've got our staff down there working, but we wouldn't have been able to do this without the help of the volunteers and donations from the community."
Both Wilson and Kaufman hope to have the work completed in the next couple of weeks. Kaufman said once the city is done with its part, volunteers will start with the ramp repairs and improvements.
"We are just on hold right now," Kaufman said. "Waiting for the city to finish their part."
The new fence should make the park much more inviting, Kaufman said.
"In the old park it felt like you were fenced in -- like you were in prison," he said.
The fence will be designed to keep bikes, especially those with muddy tires, out of the park. It should also control the pace of traffic through the park.
--To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org