Our View: City skating by on access


Editorial Board, April 2010 to Aug. 8, 2010

  • Suzanne Schlicht, publisher
  • Brent Boyer, editor
  • Blythe Terrell, city editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter
  • Towny Anderson, community representative
  • Tatiana Achcar, community representative

Contact the editorial board at (970) 871-4221 or editor@steamboatpilot.com. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.

— As Bear River Skatepark was being developed and built, it seemed like a great amenity that would serve the needs of the skateboarding community. But since the park’s completion in May and opening in June, serious access questions have arisen.

The park was built without vehicle access or parking for users and spectators. The only access is the Yampa River Core Trail, and emergency responders said they could use the trail or Lagoon Court in case of an incident at the park.

That doesn’t seem right.

The $312,000 cost of the park was covered by a $200,000 grant from Great Outdoors Colorado, $50,000 from the city of Steam­boat Springs, $50,000 from the Steamboat Skate­park Alliance, $10,000 from the Yampa Valley Community Foundation and $2,000 from the Rotary Club of Steamboat Springs.

City Parks Supervisor Ernie Jenkins said the city has money in its 2011 budget to improve the Lagoon Court road and to work toward a parking area. He said the park was built before access was finished because the money was available.

The city wouldn’t allow a private developer such a concession. It would be unacceptable for a developer to build first and address access issues later. This double standard isn’t fair and sets a poor example. And the city certainly has made parking available at other athletic venues. How would users have reacted if they couldn’t park at the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs or Howelsen Ice Arena, for example?

We understand that GOCo grants come with contracts that specify a mandatory completion date, and it may be desirable to land the grant and build the facility while those dollars are available. But the city has funds in its capital reserves for access improvements and should use them. We urge the city to acknowledge the problem, examine the costs and commit to a date by which it can remedy the parking situation.

We also have to wonder about how the city has handled amenities at Bear River Skatepark. The Core Trail dead-ends at a great skatepark that’s surrounded by an unwelcoming chain-link fence and a graveyard of Lincoln Avenue concrete. If families want to come watch, they’ll have to come down a stretch of the Core Trail, likely the 0.9 miles from the Stock Bridge Transit Center. Places to watch are available — the site includes a picnic table and bleachers — but the lack of parking and difficult access make it unlikely that families with young children will be well served.

Additionally, emergency access is a concern. The Lagoon Court route is available, but responders using the Core Trail from the James Brown Soul Center of the Universe Bridge would have to navigate blind corners on a path that seems just wide enough for a vehicle and would have to cross over two narrow wooden bridges on the trail.

On the whole, we think the idea of an enhanced skatepark is great. The skateboarding community historically has been underserved, and it’s encouraging that the city recognized this and helped meet a need. The Skatepark Alliance and Jon Casson also deserve credit for their fundraising and lobbying efforts.

But we don’t want Bear River Skatepark to offer subpar amenities, and it is a shame that the park is difficult for parents with younger children to access. A private developer never could start a project without addressing these elements up front. Why has the city let itself off the hook? By doing so, the city erodes its credibility with developers and does a disservice to the community. More important, a low standard for a public park has resulted in problems with public safety, security and accessibility.  


Scott Wedel 6 years, 10 months ago

So why does access by foot path not count as access? Are we really so tied to cars that walking, biking or skating on a nice paved path to a skate park does not count as access?

If emergency services is satisfied that they have sufficient access to it then that is enough for me.

I think it is actually pretty cool that a recreational facility does not have parking within 20 feet of the entrance. The idea that participants and spectators might get some exercise accessing the facility sounds great to me.


boater1 6 years, 10 months ago

agreed we rode our bikes there w/ trailer & kid in tow to watch. others can do the same. geez it's part of the bike path, ride your bike.

if ya had not noticed Pilot, skaters and families who might be inclined to skate or want to show their kids skating are not the fat lard suv families who need a spot 5 ft away.

a double standard yes. good argument. that families are being denied. weak argument.

sure a road would be nice but the responders are happy. sure there is a chain link fence, but all those skaters who fought hard for that park couldn't care less. they have a place to call home.

stop trying to spend the cities $ when things are tight. when the funds are there maybe a road can be built and more than likely sit empty.


kathy foos 6 years, 10 months ago

It sounds like someone has to park their car and walk over to get their kid,or check to see if they are there,instead of just driving up and honking for them.


nxoby36 6 years, 10 months ago

I guess if one is disabled or unable to walk for any distance then you just don't get to watch your grandchildren . This doesn't seem right to me .


greenwash 6 years, 10 months ago

Once again , Parks Dept is ruling the roost.City has gone right along.

Hmmmm, Here are my questions .

Why was new skate park location moved from next to New Community Center to behind new Courhouse?Who authorized its move?

Why was location behind new courthouse moved farther to the west instead of origially farther east?Who authorized it?

Why did Jim Weber lose his job?Who authorized it?

Why are we just burying Lincoln Ave Debris instead of grinding it up to build Lagoon Ct. and a parking lot using the materials?

How can we reasonably feel good about burying contaminated soils and petrolium based asphalt in wetland / low water table next to Yampa River?Who authorized this?

Who is in charge ?


sledneck 6 years, 10 months ago

The burying asphalt in a low water table is a good question; not because of the danger, which is minimum, but because of the hypocracy.

The debris being used for other roads is a damn good question too.


Jonathan Casson 6 years, 10 months ago

I'm glad the Pilot brought up the question about access to the skatepark. Unfortunately, I've been out of town and wasn't available to comment, but I'd like to clarify a few things from both the editorial and the ensuing comments.

First of all, we knew that access was going to be an issue last summer when all the pieces were coming together to finally build the skatepark. As the director of the Skatepark Alliance, I was faced with a choice--- build now while the money, land, donations, contractor, etc were all lined up and worry about the access later. OR put the skatepark construction on hold for another year while access was sorted out. My overriding concern if we construction was delayed was that another obstacle could arise further delaying the park. So, in consultation with Parks/Rec, local skaters, our donors and Team Pain--- we went for it. Since it's completion, our new skatepark is heavily used by all ages and abilities from all over the region. One of my friends from Summit County calls it "the best mountain town skatepark in Colorado". The skate park is there- it isnt going anywhere. The lack of access is a temporary issue that will be solved as soon as possible.

In response to Greenwash's questions---the new Community Center was never an option for the skatepark. When I founded the SSpA in 2003, the Bear River Parcel was already identified as one of the best potential location for a skatepark and was part of the Bear River Master Plan developed and approved in 2005. I personally visited, walked and measured multiple locations around Steamboat and came up with a rough evaluation of each site. While not 100% perfect (mostly due to location), the Bear River site was still our best shot of getting something built in a reasonable timeframe. So, we pursued that site until the Rec Center idea came up. A skatepark was included in the overall footprint of the Rec Center, but would have been funded separately. Of course....we know what happened with the Rec Center vote..... So, we went back to the Bear River location. It was never "moved" from the Community Center site as that was never really on the table in the first place.

As for moving the park further west (I assume you mean using the other defunct sewer lagoon pool), that decision was made when reclamation of the east pool started. The contractor in charge of the reclamation found there was more "sediment" to clean in the east pool than the west pool (even though the west pool is larger). So, in order to get the reclamation done in time to meet the skatepark construction timeline, we moved the site to the west pool.

I have no idea about Jim Weber and not sure what that has to do with the skatepark.


Jonathan Casson 6 years, 10 months ago

Finally, those "wetlands" you refer to are actually old sewage lagoons that were used to treat raw waste water and other "bio" material. Both lagoons are lined with asphalt on the bottom to prevent seepage into the soil. While I'm not an expert on drainage or sewer lagoon construction...I don't see that old road material is any more threatening than what's been at the bottom of those pools for the past 15-20 years.

As it stands right now, I'm very excited about our skatepark and stoked to see so many skaters of all ages enjoying it. It's been at least 12 years that the local skaters have been pushing for a concrete skatepark. A few months of having to use the Core Trail is a small concession for having such a great facility.

If you have any questions about the skatepark, the SSpA or how you can donate for future expansion please feel free to email me at skateboat@comcast.net or go to www.skateboat.com. You can alos find us on Facebook under Steamboat Skatepark Alliance. I hope I answered some of your questions...Thanks for the comments and support for the skatepark.


greenwash 6 years, 10 months ago

HI Jon, I do Agree ,overall this is a awesome addition to our community.Ive been there several times and it already seems we need another couple of pools. I just think everyone needs to play by the rules , including city.I look foward to phase 2 and watching it grow in the future.


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