Steamboat Springs Some people will look at the three wooden poles that stand a couple of dozen yards behind the sand volleyball courts at Howelsen Hill and wonder what they are looking at, others will think that the poles are an art display by an award-winning chain saw artist and a few will see the opportunity to practice their sport.
But when recent Steamboat Springs High School graduate Danny Kramer looks at the new slackline park, which was built in the shadows of the Howelsen Hill Ski Area, he sees a place where he can gather with friends, and he feels a real sense of accomplishment.
Kramer is one of the 18 members of the Steamboat Springs Teen Council that worked to secure grants, went through the planning process and received all the approvals needed to build the new park, which is now open. The park will offer community members a place to go and practice the growing sport of slacklining. All they need is to bring their own slackline to string between the three, 8-foot-plus tall poles that form the park.
“When I joined the Teen Council before my junior year, I didn’t even slackline,” Kramer said. “But after being around it the past two years, I’ve picked the sport up, and these days, it’s normally where I go after I’m done working at the Alpine Slide.”
Working at the Alpine Slide, which is just a few yards from where the slackline park is located, has allowed Kramer to watch as visitors come and go from the park during the day, and after work, he is there enjoying what he helped build with a regular group of friends.
“It's becoming a really great place to hang out,” Kramer said. “They can set up their slackline between the poles any way they want, and someday, we are hoping to see the park expand.”
The Teen Council started working on the slackline project in 2012. The council began meeting with the Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation Commission and the Steamboat Springs School District to determine the best location for the park.
Once the idea was established, the teens started working with Carl Warnke, with Engineering Design Works, to come up with a solid, removable slackline post design. The poles will be removed in the winter so they don’t interfere with the Howelsen cross-country ski runs.
Warnke donated his time and resources to engineer the poles for the park. When the plans for the project were approved, the teens worked with Amaron-Folkestad General Contractors and the city of Steamboat Springs' Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Department to have the posts installed.
The project was funded by two grants. The first came from LiveWell Colorado, which gave the Teen Council $5,000.
Kramer also made a documentary about the slackline project as it progressed and entered it into the Ready Set Action contest for another grant from the organization.
The money from those two grants was used to build the slackline park and to fund a coed teen volleyball league to keep high school students active and away from drugs and alcohol.
Kramer said the park has been in use for several weeks, but a grand opening is planned for July 26 prior to a free concert series event, according to Kate Warnke, the city of Steamboat Springs' teen programs coordinator. During that ceremony, the Teen Council plans to give away six, 98-foot Gibbon slacklines to help promote the sport in Steamboat Springs.
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966