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.
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
Steamboat Springs 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, CaÃ±on 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."