Steamboat Springs In view of a world-class ski jumping facility and numerous ball fields worthy of hosting national tournaments, Mike Andrews yanked back the metal surface of a dilapidated ramp at the skate park at Howelsen Hill Thursday.
To Andrews, the decaying ramp epitomizes a sharp contrast in upkeep between the skate park and other city recreation areas.
"The skate park is falling apart," he said.
Andrews' biggest concern is whether the only place to ride on ramps in Steamboat Springs will become such a liability that the city will shut it down.
He pointed out a wood and metal box-like obstacle in the middle of the park that skaters, and BMX bike riders, use to perform maneuvers off of. He has personally named it the Shin Buster, because the metal surface of the obstacle are precariously bent up in the corners.
"I mean look at this thing," he said, pulling up on the metal.
Most of the ramps at the park have similar problems with metal surfaces detaching from wooden frames.
Chris Wilson, Steamboat Springs director of parks, recreation and open spaces, said he doing the best that can be done with what he has.
"We're repairing things as fast as we can," he said.
The biggest problem is that the metal and wood need a lot of upkeep and the city doesn't have the money in its budget to build anything more substantial.
A concrete park would be the best, Wilson said, but they're costly.
"Those parks are running up to $200,000 to build," he said.
Andrews agreed that it would take a big chunk of money, but said it would be worth it.
During the peak times of the summer, especially during softball tournaments, he estimates that between 50 to 100 people ride on the ramps a day.
"For a city park, that's a lot of people," he said.
All of that use means wear and tear, which could be avoided by a concrete park.
"With that, all the maintenance would be is sweeping it," he said.
Wilson knows that, but there just isn't the initial money in the budget. There also is an issue of location. The land where the park sits, near the basketball hoops in one of Howelsen Hill's parking lot, isn't big enough for a concrete park. Especially when it would take away much needed parking at Howelsen Hill, Wilson said.
"The major thing is funding and site location," he said. "But there's no intent on the city's part to get rid of it."
That means, unless money can be found, the city and volunteers will have to work together to get the maintenance done.
In the past few years, The Click skateboard shop has donated $2,000 for ramp maintenance, owner Josh Kaufman said.
Last year the city got a grant for $3,000 to go toward parks maintenance and to rebuild a fence surrounding the ramps.
Obviously, more work needs to be done because it is getting dangerous, Kaufman said.
This summer, Steamboat ambulance crews have been called over to the park five times and transported four people top the hospital, Steamboat Ambulance director Mel Stuart said.
All the calls were related to normal skateboarding accidents, paramedic Smokey Vandergrift said. However, two patients were unconscious and had not been wearing a helmet.
Anyone using the park is required to wear a helmet, and most do, said Art Fiebing, Steamboat Springs assistant chief of police.
"I just hope the ones that don't don't wreck it for the others," he said.
Andrews and Kaufman helped form the Steamboat Skate Park Users Group to find volunteers and look for option to find better funding.
"A solution here is a concrete park," Kaufman said.
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