VAIL — Cameron Chaney has been skateboarding ever since he can remember. He may just have an idea for something Vail has long lacked — a permanent skate park.
Chaney, 14, is a freshman at the Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy in Minturn. For the past few years, he has been interested in 3-D drawing and design, and he has spent some time with the people at LGM, a Minturn-based company that specializes in 3-D design and printing. Chaney has now combined those interests in a design and quick YouTube video for a skate park in a seemingly unlikely spot — the open-air area between the north and south halves of the Lionshead parking structure.
Chaney said his idea for the park was prompted by talking to Chad Young, of the Vail Recreation District. But this idea isn’t his first. He’s drawn the idea for a skate park near his school in Minturn and has also drawn a design for a more open-air park that might be somewhere in Vail.
“I always have different ideas for different parks,” Chaney said.
A handful of adults in Vail are impressed with Chaney’s work. And these adults — members of the Vail Town Council — have the pull to perhaps bring the design to life.
SEARCHING FOR A SPOT
For years, Vail has put a temporary skate park atop the Lionshead structure in the summers, then taken it back down in the fall. Officials say they’d like to find a permanent home for a skate park, but in Vail, finding a new home for just about anything is tough in a town that’s mostly built. Then there’s the matter of convenience and neighbors.
Town officials are looking at a renovation of Booth Creek Park in East Vail. Town capital projects manager Todd Oppenheimer has drawn several possible options for the park, which now has an outdated playground and an unusable tennis court.
During a Tuesday discussion, council members talked about the obstacles to putting a skate park there and mostly decided the location is inconvenient and, probably, subject to neighborhood opposition.
Other sites are in similar straits. In fact, Oppenheimer has looked at several sites around town.
“There are no perfect sites — most would have to displace another kind of recreation,” Oppenheimer said during Tuesday’s council meeting. Then council members got a look at Chaney’s idea.
“I’m loving this for a lot of reasons,” council member Greg Moffet said.
Perhaps the biggest reason is that a permanent structure at the parking area would eliminate one of the biggest reasons town officials put the seasonal skate park up in the first place — the fact that skaters were using the structure’s ramps and concrete walls, creating possible conflicts with cars and pedestrians.
Putting a skate park in one of the town’s existing parks might not draw skaters away from the pavement and concrete they like, Moffet said. Something at the Lionshead structure would be easy to reach via town bus, handy to the recreation district’s youth center in the structure and close to places to grab a snack or cold drink.
Young told the council that the structure Chaney drew up is smaller than what town officials might like. But he said, while there might be some waiting to use the facility, he believes riders would wait for a chance to run the course.
‘GREAT USE OF A TIGHT SPACE’
“This is intriguing to me,” council member Dave Chapin said. “It’s for skateboards — you don’t have to be inside. And, this is a great use of a tight space.
Oppenheimer said the structure would also be easy to shade from the summer sun with canopies or artwork. “It would enliven a completely dead space.
Better yet, there are no neighbors to contend with.
Mayor Andy Daly said the idea is worth a serious look.
“I really want to commend Cameron on this,” Oppenheimer said. “For a young person in the community to go out on a limb like this is really impressive.”
For Chaney, having one of his park designs adopted in his hometown would be a win in a lot of ways.
First and foremost, he’d like to have a place he and his friends could go to ride — right now, the preferred spot is in Edwards, a bus ride away from home.
Then, of course, there’s the idea of riding on something he’s designed.
“I’d be really excited about it,” Chaney said. “It would be such a cool thing to happen.”
And it might start a young designer on a path to even more success.