Avon’s skate plaza concept could move to Nottingham Park
Decision leaves old fire station site available for possible community, cultural center
As the town of Avon continues planning for the future of “La Zona” — connecting the pedestrian mall, its recreation center and Harry A. Nottingham Park — the potential of a skate park, or skate plaza, was introduced to the Town Council. However, where to put this community amenity has been up for debate.
At its Tuesday, April 25, meeting, the majority of Avon’s Town Council supported moving forward with designs and planning to bring a skate concept to the southeast corner of Harry A. Nottingham Park, also known as the Old Town Hall site.
The recent push to bring a skate park to Avon started with the Avon Skate Coalition, which formed in 2021 and has been undergoing an “equitable community design process.” The coalition was before the council earlier in April to present the idea of putting a “skate plaza” in the old fire station site.
The skate plaza, as presented by University of Colorado Denver graduate student Lee Dubin on Tuesday, April 11, would bring 16,000 square feet of skateable space and include transitional community space to the rest of La Zona.
While there was consensus to support placing a skate plaza at this site, several council members also pushed for further evaluation of other sites.
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The old fire station, which is located at 351 Benchmark Road next to the Avon Public Library, has been contemplated for numerous uses over the years including most recently housing for transit employees. In earlier discussions, some members of council felt that a skate park was not the highest and best use for this site.
A better site?
In response to these concerns, Town Manager Eric Heil presented a new proposal to place the skate plaza adjacent to Harry A. Nottingham Park.
After tearing down the former Town Hall from the southeast corner of the park, Town Council has been determining the best use for this site as well. Initially, the town intended to bring a larger restroom and concessions facility to the site. However, when it went out to bid the project, a $10 million price tag was determined to be too high and council rejected the bid.
In evaluating the site’s potential use as a skate plaza, the town could potentially fit up to a 24,000 square-foot skate park, as well as a smaller bathroom facility and some “transitional” park space to the park’s main field.
“Without getting into any kind of design — because if this location is agreeable to council, that would be the next step — but that’s more than enough room to do a quality skate park that has all the features that are desired, plus leave room on that north-edge to do some type of transition park (grass, picnic tables, trees) so it’s not just all one skate park site,” Heil said.
“That site can work; it’s in close proximity to the rec center, to the field, to other park amenities. It’s high visibility, which works well for safety. And it would leave the old fire station site for something special, to be defined.”
As contemplated, the skate plaza would take over the former Town Hall site as well as the parking area. The 18 parking spots that would be lost could likely be relocated in the future, using space along Lake Street and the Old Fire Station, Heil said.
Five out of seven council members expressed support for moving ahead with the next steps on the site. With this support, the town will give the reins back to the Avon Skate Coalition to begin the design process in coordination with the town. Eventually, the designs would have to be approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission as well as the Town Council.
“Direction tonight does not mean we’re building a skate plaza in Harry A. Nottingham Park necessarily, we’re just taking the next step with respect to design, costs, all of that,” said Council member Tamra Underwood, who expressed her support for this “necessary next step.”
Dissenting from the decision, Council members Lindsay Hardy and RJ Andrade expressed concerns over the new location.
“We need to make sure that we leave enough room for passive use because we are over-programming this park,” Hardy said.
Andrade expressed concerns that they hadn’t spent enough time evaluating locations.
“I feel like we’re settling to put a skate park somewhere and we’re not going to put the best skate park we possibly could where it fits already,” he said. “With a skate park, if you don’t build the best one you can, in two years, nobody is going to use it. And I would hate to put all this time and effort into it and have nobody use it because we had site constraints and shoved it in there.”
Leaving room for the arts
Placing the skate plaza former Town Hall site leaves the Old Fire Station available for a number of possible future uses. However, council and community members on Tuesday advocated that the site be used for some sort of cultural community center.
“Having an arts center or a cultural space over at the fire station would be a really amazing asset. I see it as multi-functional, multi-organizational building that would have everything from pottery studios and painting space to possibly music rooms, maybe dance space, events space, coffee shop food, a culinary kitchen that could provide classes and catering facility,” said Eagle County resident Tara Novak.
“There are so many people in the community that would like to see an arts and cultural space here and have an art district in Avon, the heart of the valley.”
Sarah Smith Hymes, who formerly served on Town Council and as the town’s mayor, supported the idea of a mixed-use, community center with housing at the old fire station site, and also expressed concerns over a skate park in Nottingham Park.
“I think skateboard parks are great, I do not think it belongs in Nottingham, I don’t think there’s enough room, we’re already over-programmed. But, if you’re going to do it, please don’t do it on the old fire site,” she said. “I think it is not the highest and best use of the old fire station site. That is the best lot in Avon. I have always envisioned it as being a mixed-use, community center with housing upstairs. It is an amazing, amazing location.”