Sk8 Church founder Buck Chavarria talks to, from left, City of Steamboat Springs Teen Programs Coordinator Brooke Lightner, and Steamboat Springs Teen Council members Nick Parnell, Maria Hillenbrand and Chloe Banning on Wednesday during a tour at the Sk8 Church facility.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Sk8 Church founder Buck Chavarria talks to, from left, City of Steamboat Springs Teen Programs Coordinator Brooke Lightner, and Steamboat Springs Teen Council members Nick Parnell, Maria Hillenbrand and Chloe Banning on Wednesday during a tour at the Sk8 Church facility.

Steamboat Springs Teen Council meeting with local groups about center

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— A few members of the Steam­boat Springs Teen Council were impressed with the progress of the Sk8 Church facility.

The facility will provide a place for the church to meet, but it would also be a gathering place for local teens, said Buck Chavarria, who started the church four years ago with his wife, Tara.

Teen Council members toured the facility Wednesday night. It was part of an ongoing effort the 16-member group — comprising students from Steamboat Springs High School and The Lowell Whiteman School — started to discuss the possibility of a teen center with local groups working on projects.

Brooke Lightner, teen programs coordinator for the city, said the Teen Council was established three years ago to provide teens a voice in the community. Lightner, who assists the teens, said they’ve been a resource for local groups working on teen centers.

“Their role has been to provide a teen perspective on these projects so they move forward with teen buy-in and teen support,” she said.

In addition to Sk8 Church, the Teen Council has met with the Boys & Girls Club of Steamboat Springs about using its space for teen functions, Lightner said. She said they’ve also been presented the most recent plans for a proposed youth and teen center as part of an expansion at Howelsen Ice Arena — a project that likely is years away.

During its meetings with local groups and organizations, the Teen Council also is sharing results from a 2009 survey in which more than 300 high school students indicated that affordable teen activities and a dedicated teen space were important to them.

At last week’s Teen Council meeting, several members acknowledged that a dedicated teen space for high school students may not happen before they graduate, but they want to make sure that any project is well thought out.

“We feel like if we really want this to happen, we have to do it the right way,” said Matthia Duryea, a senior at Steamboat. Duryea, who is the council’s vice president, added that if a teen center flops, it might not happen again.

That’s part of the reason they’re looking to partner with an existing facility, such as the Boys & Girls Club, or one in the works, such as Sk8 Church.

The city’s Parks, Open Space and Recreational Servi­ces Department operates satellite teen programs once a month at different locations in Steamboat, which have been successful, Lightner said. She said the Teen Council also works with the high school’s leadership class, which organizes activities for teens after school and games in conjunction with the 5th Quarter program.

The Boys & Girls Club has begun working with the city to establish a dedicated space for middle school students at its facility, Unit Director Heather Martyn said. Once established, Martyn said, the program would be open to club members who pay a $10 annual fee.

The Sk8 Church facility, adjacent to Steamboat PowerSports, will include a lounge with televisions, computers, video games, karaoke and a snack bar in addition to the skatepark.

“This is for the community,” Buck Chavarria said. “We’re going to utilize it a couple nights a week. We understand we’re just a piece of what this facility will provide.”

When it’s not being used by Sk8 Church, he said it could be open to teens for a small cover charge or could be rented to groups such as Teen Council to host events. Chavarria said it would open in mid- to late March.

Council members Nick Parnell, Chloe Banning and Maria Hillenbrand said they would go to the Sk8 Church facility.

“I would come here,” Banning said. “The hardest part would be getting kids to come here and getting the word out. But once they do, I think they’ll like it.”

— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 871-4203 or e-mail jweinstein@steamboatpilot.com

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