Reed Wipperfurth, 10, hits the ramp at the Howelsen Hill Skate Park Tuesday evening as his buddies, from right, Ben Kerrigan, Pike Wipperfurth, Will Kerrigan and Jake Sear watch.

Photo by John F. Russell

Reed Wipperfurth, 10, hits the ramp at the Howelsen Hill Skate Park Tuesday evening as his buddies, from right, Ben Kerrigan, Pike Wipperfurth, Will Kerrigan and Jake Sear watch.

Skating toward construction

City hosts kick-off meeting for new skatepark design


If you go

What: Kick-off meeting for the

conceptual design of a new concrete skate park

When: 5:30 p.m. today

Where: Steamboat Springs Community Center, 1605 Lincoln Ave.

Call: Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Director Chris Wilson at 879-4300 for more information

— Jon Casson won't be making any specific requests of the firm designing a new Steamboat Springs skatepark. He just hopes the finished product makes people say, "Wow, Steamboat has a killer park."

"Ultimately, I'd like it to be the best skatepark in Colorado," said Casson, a local skateboarder and member of the Steamboat Skatepark Alliance. "Beyond that, I really want it to be what the skaters want."

Casson and others' decade-long push for a new skatepark takes a step forward tonight when the city and representatives of Florida-based Team Pain Enterprises host a kick-off meeting for the conceptual design of a large concrete skatepark to complement a smaller one at Howelsen Hill.

"It's going to be presentation-style, and I'm just going to hear from the community," said Tim Payne, president and founder of Team Pain. "We'll take all the information from what we've gathered and start designing the skatepark. : Basically, everybody has different styles of skating they like to do, and it's just neat to involve the community in the process."

The $631,750, city-funded project is scheduled for construction in 2009, according to the city's 2008 five-year capital improvements program. More than $75,000 of that cost is budgeted this year for design. Director of Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Chris Wilson said a site for the park has not yet been chosen and that it will be designed to fit anywhere. Casson said a piece of city property near the Yampa River in west Steamboat known as the Bear River parcel has been identified as the most likely location for the new skatepark.

Casson said the city's current modular-ramp skatepark at Howelsen Hill is inadequate because it is too small and does not comfortably address all skill levels. He said the park is only about 5,000 square feet; typical Colorado skateparks are 10,000 to 15,000 square feet. As a result, Casson said beginners and experts are forced to skateboard amongst one another.

"Our current one's pretty small," Casson said. "It makes for a dangerous and intimidating place to figure things out. : (With a large concrete skatepark) you can address all types of skate styles and skill levels."

The city is proposing 20,000 square feet for the new park.

Buck Chavarria of Steamboat Springs' Christ for Life SK8 Church said maintenance is another challenge at Howelsen Hill.

"There's just no focus on it, so it's run down," Chavarria said. "With a new facility you would create a new sense of pride in ownership."

Christ for Life SK8 Church is a Christian youth ministry that uses skateboarding as a channel to connect with local youth culture. Chavarria said the nonprofit organization is in the process of acquiring a piece of property for a separate indoor skatepark and recreation center.

Payne said he has been building skateparks for the past 25 years, including some of the first ones in Colorado. Team Pain designed and built skateparks in Breckenridge, Silverthorne, Salida, Aspen, Cañon City and is getting ready to break ground on a 50,000-square-foot facility in Colorado Springs. But Payne said those familiar with any of these facilities shouldn't expect more of the same in Steamboat.

"Every skatepark we build is unique," Payne said. "We never build the same park twice."

That's welcome news for Chavarria, who said Steamboat should make up for its late entrance to the world of concrete skateparks by building something innovative.

"I would like to see Steamboat, since we are so late in the game of concrete skateparks, do something really new and exciting," Chavarria said. "If we're going to be late in the game, let's do something that blows everyone away."


BoatMaster 8 years, 11 months ago

Yes, It must be in a VISIBLE place to help keep out the problems that will come when there is a teen place to hang out without supervision. We all know what those problems are.

My son goes to the skate park now and again. When I go with him I notice a few kids that are to put it nicely " not very sociable" to him. We don't want this great idea of a new skate park turn into something less positive.

Keep it in a VISIBLE location and make it EASY to get to.


Jonathan Casson 8 years, 11 months ago

Thanks for the comments and the support for this project. A concrete skatepark has been an on and off project for the past 10 years that I've lived in town and it's really exciting to know that its finally going to happen. Most of the pieces are in place to build next summer, but as some of you point out, there are some lingering issues with a site. Just so all of you know, no site is definite at this point. The Bear River site is the most likely choice. The entire Bear River Parcel was the subject of several community meetings a couple of years ago. It was identified as a possible spot for skatepark and a draft plan for the entire area including the skatepark was approved by City Council. There are some other options out there, but as of right now, Bear River is the leading candidate for the new skatepark. The Core Trail is being extended to the site and Public Works is in the process of decommissioning and preparing the site for public use. But...just like any site, there pluses and minuses.

I totally agree with the opinion that a new skatepark should be as visible as possible and a downtown site would be ideal. But- we've been waiting 10+ years for a concrete park and at some point- some compromises might have to made to get it done (and done right). If I had my way- I'd put it right on the courthouse lawn! But that's probably not going to happen. :)

So, my question to everyone calling for a downtown site is "where"? The first response would be Howelsen, but consider a couple of things about a new skatepark at Howelsen first.

  1. Space/Size- In order to build a 20,000 sq ft park near the existing park, it would have to "shoehorn" into a funky corner limiting the ability of our designers to maximize the space. The current location is approximately 5-6,000 sq ft. If we were to expand to 20k, we'd go to the pumphouse (taking out the basketball hoops) on one end and into the old batting cage area on the other. On that end, there is a major gas line running adjacent to the current park creating more complications.
  2. Keeping the existing park- it would be so ideal to keep the existing park AND have the rad concrete park in another location. Maybe a temporary structure over the current park during the winter...???
  3. Also factor in parking and traffic...

None of those factors mean that it COULDN'T be done at Howie, but it isnt as ideal as it might initially appear.

If there's another location within Howelsen, that might be a different story...

Any site we look at will have good and bad things about it and I'm open to any ideas. Please let me know if you have any other suggestions and I will pass on to Parks and Rec.

Thanks again for the comments and support- this will be a great asset for Steamboat kids of all ages.

Please email me at if you'd like me to add you to our email list or if you have ideas/suggestions/comments.


Nitro 8 years, 11 months ago

The west end of the bike path along with a pedestrian bridge is currently under construction, leading directly to this location. Kids can skateboard there very easily from Howelsen or the Stockbridge/Community Center location (note: bus stop!) If you want enough space to build an adequate skatepark, then it will have to be a little further from the center of town but certainly not inaccessible for kids.
Perhaps the meeting with the City and skatepark designer provided more insight into the site selection process and how the local volunteer skatepark group collaborated with identifying the site.


JD grimes 8 years, 11 months ago

It is about time. Steamboat skateboarders have been working toward this for over 10 years. I know that a good concrete skatepark would open Steamboat to more summer visitors and bring more business to town. The new facility will be a positive addition to Steamboats all ready active lifestyle. Hopefully the city of Steamboat Springs follows through finally and the skaters respect their new home.


BoatMaster 8 years, 11 months ago

Congrats on the new Skate Park. Lets get this built for the kids!!!


424now 8 years, 11 months ago


Does that mean me and my vintage Black Knight woody with metal wheels can't go give it try?


BoatMaster 8 years, 11 months ago


My Bad, You are correct, not just for kids.

Since my back surgery I stay away, but my son loves to go over there and skate while mom and I have beers at Sun Pies !!


jeep 8 years, 11 months ago

do all of you know that bear park is behind the new justice center thats where they want to put the skate park ( two miles from downtown) and most kids don't drive . how are they going to get there. vote to keep the skate park downtown.


another_local 8 years, 11 months ago

A skate park would be great thing but it needs to be in a downtown VISIBLE place for a variety of reasons. Jeep's point about access is right on the money; this needs to be in a central location, on the bikepath, near the bus. Not only do we want to show off an exciting new amenity, we also want to keep the light shining on what goes on there. At the current skate park, smaller kids are already run off by the dopesmoking teenagers that hang out there. Putting it a mile away will not help anything in that regard.


424now 8 years, 11 months ago

Ok AL,

You have a valid point. The new Park needs to be in a highly visible location to minimize the dweebs and stoners harshing an otherwise riteous vibe.


arnonep 8 years, 11 months ago

Let me start by saying I am a huge proponent of this facility. But, what about the liability the City is taking on. Again, I want this as much as anyone, but few if any (on some days) users of the current park wear any protection (unlike the pictured skater). I have skated many parks over the years and the world and have never seen a park so lax on helmets, let alone full pads. On the issue of site, Howelsen has to be the primary location of effort. West of town is not an option for the reasons already discussed. The Stock Bridge could be viable, but should be a last resort. Near the yurt would be enough space and the small playground would be an acceptable sacrifice due to the plethora of playgrounds we have. The big plus is the added visibility of that location due to the traffic at the Alpine Slide. My congratulations to Mr. Casson on his effort, but I ask he takes on the issue of protective gear as a serious part of his planning.


jeep 8 years, 11 months ago

JonCasson said (The entire Bear River Parcel was the subject of several community meetings a couple of years ago. It was identified as a possible spot for skate park and a draft plan for the entire area including the skate park was approved by City Council. )

the old city council. If you haven't been to Bear river (park) it's home for sand hill crane's/duck's/geese/ and much more, it's a spot for a park alright, just not a skateboard park.


Jonathan Casson 8 years, 11 months ago

Thanks for the follow-up comments, emails and site locations.

Knowitall- That would be an ideal location but I'm pretty sure that area is considered wetland and is undevelopable. I'll check into that one.

Arnonep- Many Colorado municipalities have pooled their risk management policies into an organization called CIRSA. Under these policies, skateparks are considered playground equipment and subject to the same safety considerations. Liability wont be an issue as long as the park is professionally designed and constructed. In fact, per capita, there are less injuries skateboarding across the US than in other traditional sports (i.e. soccer). Check out the following stats- skateboarding is not as dangerous as you might think. However- head injuries are the most common injury. In regards to helmet policies, they are currently required at the skatepark but no one has the authority or even attempts to enforce it. Once the new park is built, I would encourage the city to adopt a helmet ordnance for the new park giving the police the authority to enforce it. A couple of tickets issued and problem solved. That's how it works in several other skateparks I've visited.

Thanks for the suggestion of the yurt area. I looked at it yesterday and it might be enough space, but its a little cornered between a bunch of other things. I'll get my tape and measure it out this afternoon.

Jeep- The draft master plan for Bear River was for the full 18 acre area including open space and wildlife area. The area is old sewer lagoons and need to be reclaimed and decommssioned for environmental reasons regardless of what may or may not go in there (if anything).

Lastly, one clarification from the original article. The cost for the park will not be entirely city funded. In the end, it'll be a mix of private donations, state grants and city funds. If you'd like to contribute to the skatepark, we have a fund with the Yampa Valley Community Foundation ready to take donations.

For more info on public skateparks check out:

Thanks again for the comments!


Jonathan Casson 8 years, 11 months ago

Jeep- I'm open to any and all ideas. I've been working on this for 6 years and have looked at most pieces of public land in Steamboat but I'm sure there some places I haven't thought of. If you have any actual ideas other than "downtown", I'd love to hear them. Feel free to post here or email me at the address I posted earlier.


oldskoolstmbt 8 years, 11 months ago

700 developement should donate the land and transportation and safety equip. AND supervision,,lol


424now 8 years, 11 months ago

So anybody who skates or has a kid who skates could help insure a quality park no matter where the location ends up by clicking this link

I guess I'll click on and make a donation.


jeep 8 years, 11 months ago

i still would like to hear more comments on this post.


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