Facelift begins at skatepark

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— With school back in session, it was a fairly quiet early afternoon Tuesday at the skatepark near Howelsen Hill. Give it a couple of hours, Jon Casson said. When school lets out, the local skateboarders will make their way to the park.

With the efforts of the Steamboat Skatepark Alliance, nearly $22,000 was raised to help begin making improvements at the park. Those improvements began Aug. 23 under the direction of Cactofab, a business run by Cactus Nemec, a skateboarder and snowboard coach with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.

Two new pieces will be added this fall, with additional pieces scheduled for construction in the spring. Additional funds must be raised to complete the different phases, including the addition of a new mini-ramp, but Casson said the decision was made to begin making some of the improvements now.

"The pieces we're replacing were really becoming a safety concern, so we decided to rebuild some street features," he said.

A new feature with two 4 1/2-foot quarterpipes sandwiching one wedge ramp is complete. At the opposite end of the park, Nemec and a helper were busy constructing a 6-foot quarterpipe Tuesday afternoon. That quarterpipe will go between two 5-foot wedge ramps that are not built yet. All of Cactofab's construction has been on-site.

"My goal has been not to close the park," Nemec said. "I've only been hit with a skateboard twice."

Nemec said many excited skateboarders have come up and thanked him for helping to rebuild the street features. Casson said some skateboarders, mostly older riders, have arrived at the park surprised to see improvements being made.

On Tuesday, Andy Berger, 16, was busy perfecting new tricks. He got a new video camera Monday, and Tuesday afternoon he was at the park, propping up his camera to shoot footage of himself skateboarding. Berger gave a nod of approval to the newly completed quarterpipes-wedge ramp feature.

"It's definitely a lot better than what we had," he said. "On the other one, there were screws sticking out. The other ramps were falling apart."

The Steamboat Skatepark Alliance is accepting donations to continue upgrading the skatepark at Howelsen Hill through the Yampa Valley Community Foundation.

For information on the SSpA, call Casson at 846-1599 or jcasson1@comcast.net.

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