Steamboat Springs To most people, the 9,000-square-foot site on the back of the Bear River Parcel appears to be a pile of dirt. But local skateboard enthusiast Jon Casson envisions so much more.
"It was honestly kind of emotional," Casson said of watching heavy equipment prepare the site of a new concrete skatepark. "I thought, 'Wow, I can't believe this is actually happening.'"
Work crews began to prepare the site for the first phase of a concrete skatepark last week at the Bear River Parcel, west of downtown Steamboat Springs between the Routt County Jail and the Yampa River. Chris Wilson, director of the city's Department of Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services, said he is hoping crews will construct the park within 10 weeks but that he doesn't expect landscaping, signs and finishing touches to be completed until next spring.
"I don't want to tell everyone a date when it will be done and then have it rain or run into some other construction issues," Wilson said. "It could be done sooner (than next spring), but I don't want to disappoint anyone."
Casson says he will not be disappointed, even if he has to wait. His drive to build a concrete skatepark in Steamboat Springs began roughly seven years ago, when he formed the Steamboat Skatepark Alliance.
Heavy equipment began decommissioning the city's sewer lagoons last week, along with preparation work for the concrete skatepark.
Casson and the Steamboat Skatepark Alliance have raised $60,000 through private donations and grants - including a $10,000 grant from the Yampa Valley Community Foundation - to help build the park. That money, along with $50,000 from the city of Steamboat Springs, helped the project earn a $200,000 grant from Great Outdoors Colorado that made it possible for the project to move forward this fall. Wilson said the $50,000 from the city was part of the 2009 budget and approved prior to the city's current budget problems. He said fundraising for the skatepark is the result of an almost 10-year push by community members.
Members of Team Pain are expected to be in town later this week to begin construction on the first phase of the project, which will include bowls and a street section. Casson said phase two of the project will add 8,000 to 10,000 square feet, and is expected to include more street features, a snake run area and steeper bowls.
Team Pain, an internationally known company that has built skateparks in Florida, California and Belgium, is designing and building the park. The company is just finishing a project outside of Littleton and has built parks in Aspen, Silverthorne and Colorado Springs.
The Steamboat Skatepark Alliance is still seeking donations to continue with phase two of the project and to maintain the park. Wilson said the long-term plan is to develop the parcel into a community park, which will tie into the Yampa River Core Trail and showcase the skatepark. Wilson said for the immediate future, access to the park will be from the Core Trail. There are no immediate plans for a parking lot in the area, and construction traffic will remain heavy until nearby projects are completed.
Casson said donors can purchase a brick that will become a permanent part of the park, or donate through the Yampa Valley Community Foundation.
Wilson said the effort to build the park is a collaboration between his department, city public works and several private businesses that have offered in-kind services.