Skatepark in store for Eagle?
Conway, 13, is one of many Eagle youths who say they only want a safe place to skateboard. Now, they have to use whatever surfaces are available.
The kids say they don’t want to cause trouble, they just want a place to go where they can do what they enjoy.
Some parents have built ramps in their backyards and driveways so they can supervise their children and their friends. Others have gone further, teaming up with their children to form the Eagle Skate Association.
Founded by Eagle resident and Avon Town Planner Tambi Katieb, the association has researched skateboard parks around the state and country and talked with renowned skatepark designers. It also has raised the $5,000 needed to design a park for Eagle’s new recreation facility at Brush Creek Meadows.
“We started this project at the invitation of the town,” said Katieb. “The kids really need a facility. They skate in the streets and that’s dangerous.”
Skateboarding on uneven and cracked sidewalks, in streets, and off of railings and park benches can lead to serious injuries and liabilities for the town and its businesses. A skatepark created by professional designers could be a solution that kids, parents, business owners and town officials can agree upon, supporters say.
The association, which charges a $10 annual membership fee, has been in talks with the town of Eagle for the past year in an effort to build a park at the new Brush Creek Meadows recreation center.
First-phase construction is now beginning on the recreation center, with work proceeding on a swimming pool and ice rink. While the current project is the top priority, prospects for the skatepark are bright, said Eagle Town Manager Willy Powell.
Some of Eagle’s young skaters have the means now to travel to skateparks in Silverthorne, Aspen, Breckenridge, even Crested Butte. Others, too young to drive or without transportation, skate at Gypsum’s skatepark, or on the streets.
“Skateboarding is the fastest-growing sport in the country,” said Katieb. With that popularity comes the opportunity for financial sponsorships for park construction and for programs such as skating camps in the future, he added.
In addition to safety, professionally designed skateparks can be potential financial opportunities for a community, as is the case at the Aspen Recreation Center’s skatepark.
Built three years ago, the skatepark in Aspen sees up to 300 users per day. When special events come to town, like the recent ESPN/Tony Hawk Gigantic Skateboard Tour, local hotels, restaurants and merchants reap the rewards.
“The park has been a huge success and we are looking to expand. The park brings in revenue. There is an indirect economic impact on the town,” said Aspen skatepark coordinator Chad Denning.
Denning said the Tony Hawk tour had more than 350 surprise spectators, who drop in on such events unexpectedly. Scheduled competitions bring in an average of 65 participants, their families, and more than 200 spectators, he said.
Safety is always a concern. Helmet rules and security are a must at whatever skate facility is built.
“There should be rules and there should be an anonymous way to report kids who misbehave at the skate park,” said local skater Kyle Christian, 14, of Eagle.
Christian said he has seen kids get hurt and has taken some tumbles himself due to broken or uneven sidewalks. He said helmets should be required at the future Eagle skatepark.
Local police have seen skaters injured on the street or on backyard ramps.
“I have seen a kid get hurt badly from not wearing a helmet,” said Eagle Police Officer Sandy Allison. “It’s a liability to parents and the city.”
What the association does not want to see is the vandalism and unfriendly behavior that has occasionally occurred at the Gypsum skatepark.
Association member and adult skater Jena Skinner said the Eagle skatepark would be professionally designed. Organizers are considering putting up a graffiti wall so scribbling can be directed to a designated site. The location of the park will be a busy, well-lit and well-populated site, which is a deterrent to bad behavior, said Skinner.
The Aspen park, located right behind the police station, has seen no vandalism and has very few trouble-makers. The park has also cut down on the number of clashes between skaters, store owners and residents, said Denning.
Aspen is an “at-risk” park, meaning there isn’t a fee charged or supervision, but it does require helmets, which visitors can rent from the police station. Police fine skaters who fail to wear helmets.
The Eagle skaters plan to follow that model, and local kids have gotten involved in the planning by attending meetings, raising money and brainstorming ideas. Last year, the group held a contest for local skaters to design a logo for the park.
A skatepark was originally included in the concept plan for the recreation center, but was dropped from that plan. The town is working on a revision of the site’s master plan this fall and hopes to have a new plan, including the proposed phase two projects, completed by the end of the year.
If all goes according to that timetable, the Skate Park Association should be able to begin its design process in late winter and, perhaps, break ground by the spring.
“The skatepark is not going to get pushed out, but people also want playing fields and a volleyball area,” said Powell. “Right now we are only in phase one of the project and we have been busy with the new rink and pool. Once we see these things through, we will see what phase two will include.”
Eagle building inspector Bob Kohrman said water and sewer access is planned so that future uses will not require utilities be dug up as new phases come in.
Once the site plan is revised and the design process is completed, the association hopes to generate community’s support and sponsorship interest by local and national companies in order to raise enough money to complete the park.
For more information about the Eagle Skate Association, call 328-8748 or visit http://www.eagleskatepark.com.
This story first appeared in the Eagle Valley Enterprise.