Vail approves new skate park plan | VailDaily.com

Vail approves new skate park plan

In this photo from last winter, Vail resident Cameron Chaney stands in the space the Vail Town Council Tuesday approved for a new, permanent skatepark in town. Chaney, who will be a junior at the Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy this fall, presented town officials with the first preliminary computer drawings of a potential park in the space between the north and south buildings of the Lionshead Parking Structure.

VAIL — Teenagers don't usually attend town council meetings, but Cameron Chaney had a good reason to sit in on the Vail Town Council's Tuesday session — the council unanimously approved a skatepark that started life on Chaney's computer.

Council members Tuesday approved spending just more than $1.6 million for a new, permanent skatepark between the north and south portions of the Lionshead parking structure. That new park may get more expensive soon, as town officials debate whether or not to put a snowmelt system into the concrete. The new facility will replace the seasonal park that's hauled in every year to the top of the Lionshead structure.

The council approved a design from California Skateparks, which will also oversee the construction. The skatepark company used a handful of public meetings to refine its design, but that design started when Chaney, soon to be a junior at Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy, did a sketch of a skatepark between the parking structure's buildings.

Chaney said he'd been talking with the Vail Recreation District's Chad Young about a new location for the park — a topic that had stymied town and district officials.

"Chad brought me to the space, and I put together a design," Chaney said.

Chaney for the past few years has been putting skatepark ideas into Google Sketchup, a design program. He was also involved in the meetings California Skateparks had with local boarders as the final design took shape.

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Jaxon Statzell, a designer for California Skateparks, said that design is for a range of abilities along its 230-foot length. While the park itself is long and narrow, Statzell said that actually helps put more people into the facility.

"With the length we have, there's room for more people to engage with the space," Statzell said. "It's actually way more bang for the buck."

Statzell said the space is unique for a skatepark. And, if the council ultimately agrees, it may have a feature no other mountain park has — a snowmelt system.

Town project manager Todd Oppenheimer said there are budding plans to put a snowmelt system on the stairs on the southeast corner of the Lionshead structure. The boiler for that system could also melt snow on a skatepark. Oppenheimer told council members he'd bring back some firm prices — between $150,000 and $200,000 — in the next few weeks.

Snowmelt would provide almost 12-month skateboarding, although Statzell said wheels don't work on wet concrete.

But those at the meeting said they believe the park will be well-used in any season.

C.J. Poulin is the Vail Recreation District's skateboarding coach. He said the park will be a great amenity for teens, whether they're residents or visitors.

"I can't stress how important it is to have something for youths to do in a town that's a ski resort," Poulin said. "If they're under 21, they really can't do anything in town that's safe and legal. … As a world-class, family resort, we need to offer the things that every world-class destination resort does."

There was applause after the council voted, some for the decision, and some for Chaney, who also came in for praise from council member Greg Moffet.

"Cameron, you got a bunch of your friends to participate in the public process to get something from the government," Moffet said. "This shows that it works."

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, smiller@vaildaily.com or @scottnmiller.

Facts and figures

What: New, permanent skate park in Vail.

Where: Between the north and south portions of the Lionshead Parking Structure.

Dimensions: 230 feet long, 25 feet wide.

Cost: $1.6 million — without a possible snowmelt system