Jon Casson: Skatepark a community effort

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— Over the past several weeks, crews have been hard at work cleaning up the old sewer lagoons at the Bear River Parcel. As part of the cleanup effort, the city also prepared a portion of the site for construction of a new concrete skateboard park. Last week, a construction crew from Team Pain Skateparks showed up to begin building the actual skatepark. With an estimated build time of eight weeks, we should have a brand-spankin' new skatepark sometime this fall. Eight weeks to build a skatepark that's been over 10 years in the making.

The Howelsen Hill skatepark was built in the mid-'90s with a few street ramps and a vert halfpipe. Because the original ramps were built out of wood frames with metal surfaces, the snowy winters in Steamboat took their toll on the park. In 2002, the skatepark advocacy group, led by Cassandra Krause, raised $20,000 to purchase new metal skate ramps for the park. But the ultimate goal was a concrete park similar to ones built in Aspen, Silverthorne and Breckenridge.

In 2003, I took over the skatepark advocacy efforts and formed the Steamboat Skatepark Alliance. At this point, the older structures in the Howelsen Hill skatepark had deteriorated to the point of being dangerous. Our immediate task was to replace those features. Close to $100,000 was raised and by 2006, new metal-frame, synthetic-surface ramps were complete. Next, efforts were turned toward a concrete park. In 2006, a concrete skatepark was included in the draft plan for the future Bear River Park.

Initially, the reclamation of the Bear River Parcel was slated for 2007, allowing us to build the skatepark in 2008. Unfortunately, a variety of circumstances delayed the project. By summer 2008, plans were looking good to build the park in summer 2009. And then the economy crashed. As the city worked to reallocate budget resources, money set aside for the skatepark was put on hold. Luckily, funds to clean up the sewer lagoons remained in the budget.

With less funding, we decided to build the park in two phases of 9,000 square feet each. This past spring, we applied for and received a $200,000 grant from Great Outdoors Colorado to build Phase 1 of the park. That grant, with our existing funds plus a $10,000 grant from the Yampa Valley Community Foundation and a $2,000 grant from the Rotary Club of Steamboat Springs, gave us the funds we needed. Prep work on the site started in June, and the Team Pain crew arrived Thursday.

We're very excited to see the park take shape over the next few weeks, but we're not done. We'd like to construct Phase 2 as soon as possible. The park needs landscaping, seating areas and other amenities. We'll organize volunteer workdays next spring, and we're always seeking donations. Please visit www.skateboat.com for information about future efforts.

Finally, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who helped get the skatepark built. Chris Wilson, Winnie Delliquadri and Anne Small from the city of Steamboat Springs; past and present City Council members; Josh Kaufman and Phillip Johnston at The Click skateboard shop; Buck Chavarria and Sk8 Church; Tim, James, Linda and Tito at Team Pain Skateparks; Ryan Spaustat at Landmark Consulting, Hal Schlicht with NWCC and Ed MacArthur of Native Excavating; Steamboat Ski Area, Yampa Valley Community Foundation, Rotary Club, GoCO and all the donors; and Scott Anfang, Maggie Smith, Mark Cox and others who supported the Steamboat Skatepark Alliance. Lastly, big thanks to the skaters for their patience and enthusiasm. This park is for you - have fun and take good care of it.

Jon Casson

Director, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club snowboard team

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