Ramping it up at Howelsen

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— Stairs and skateboards might seem like a bad combination to many adults.

But to Steamboat Springs middle schooler Mac Carmony and a group of about a dozen friends who were hanging out at the Howelsen Hill skate park Monday, the combination sounded like a move in the right direction.

"The pyramid is still my favorite," Carmony said, "but I like the new stuff too."

Thanks to some hard work by skate-mom Cassandra Krause and a generous grant from the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., Carmony and his buddies have three new ramps to play on this spring.

The fun box, a 6-foot long platform with a ramp at one end and set of stairs and a rail at the other, was part of the improvements.

Parks Supervisor Ernie Jenkins said the money to buy the new equipment came in the form of a grant from the ski area ($8,065) and another $3,000 from the city's Parks and Recreation Department.

After seeing the response of local riders to the new equipment, Jenkins said the money seems to have been well spent.

"The ramps arrived on April 12 and the kids have been enjoying them ever since," Jenkins said. "The ramps are an all-steel frame, which is important when they spend most of the winter under 5 feet of snow."

This is the second year in a row the park has been able to cash in on grants to make improvements.

In 2002, the park added a pyramid, and this year the city installed a new quarter pipe, roll-in and fun box.

Jenkins thanked the ski area for the money and credited the work of Krause for making the improvements possible.

Jenkins said the city is hoping to continue to make additions to the park through grants and volunteer efforts. Eventually, he hopes to see all of the park's aging apparatuses -- many of them homemade and wooden -- replaced with newer, more weather-resistant equipment.

The improvements mean a lot to skaters like Carmony who spend most of their free time at Howelsen.

"This week is our spring break, so I will be here all day, every day," Carmony said.

It's also a draw for skaters like Chris Plate who came from Moffat County to use the park.

"This park is a lot bigger and smoother than the one in Craig," Plate said. "There are also a lot more skaters here in Steamboat, so it's more fun to hang out here."

Jenkins said he sees the skate park as an important part of Howelsen Hill and hopes the city can continue to work toward more improvements in the future.

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