Cleanup at Howelsen Hill Skatepark just the start for Mekelburg, Go Skate Steamboat
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Last week, the city of Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation Department posted that the Howelsen Hill Skatepark had been vandalized with graffiti and that if the vandalism continued, the park would be closed.
Enter Trevor Mekelburg, Boardriderz & Skateboard head coach at the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club and recent founder of Go Skate Steamboat. Using his years of connections to nearly every skater in the area, Mekelburg gathered a group of youth and young adults to clean up the skatepark. On July 3, about 40 people arrived to get the job done.
“When I saw the turnout, I was almost blown away,” said Mekelburg. “Since then, I’ve actually had some really positive conversations with people who work for the city about moving forward.”
Mekelburg worked with local law enforcement and the city to ensure the job was done properly. He borrowed brooms from the city, but everything else was provided by the people who showed up to help. One young man showed up early and painted over one of the ramps that was covered in graffiti. Some brought graffiti remover and got to work scrubbing away other sections.
A pair of police officers even joined the effort. Mekelburg hopes that building a relationship with the city can help both Steamboat and skaters in the future.
“I’m really seeing this as an opportunity to show the kids that if you work with the city, the city will work with you. That’s the way it’s supposed to be, and there’s a right way to go about doing it,” said Mekelburg. “That’s where my heart is now, to give a voice to these young people in town and show them that they do have a voice and they have an opinion to be heard by the city.”
This is just the latest way Mekelburg has gotten involved in the community through skating. Already, he teaches the skateboarding program at the elementary schools and is the skateboard head coach at the SSWSC.
With Go Skate Steamboat, Mekelburg is hoping to campaign for lights at the Howelsen Hill Skatepark. The park is the only recreational facility at Howelsen Hill without lights.
The Howelsen Hill Skatepark is the best option for after-dark skating, since the Bear River Skateboard Park is too closely located to homes, so lights would not be allowed.
With the amount of skating he sees in Steamboat, Mekelburg said skaters need both parks. Adding lights would only improve the skating community more.
“The lights would provide more hours, which would dilute the population of skaters,” he said.
“The quote I’ve been using and really do believe in is ‘More use equals less abuse.’ The more kids we can get down to Howelsen Hill Skatepark, the more ownership they take over it, the less we will see it be abused.”
Mekelburg hopes to host weekly “Friday Night (please give us) Lights” gatherings at Howelsen Hill. He hopes the group will show kids that yes, it is a process to implement change, but the process, and the patience, is worth it. He also plans on hosting a monthly cleanup at either skatepark. Information about the club can be found on instagram.com/goskatesteamboat.
“I want those kids, when the lights click on, to be able to look back and be proud of the work they put in,” said Mekelburg.
Go Skate Steamboat started when Mekelburg thought of putting together a parade of skateboarders that stretched a couple of blocks down Lincoln Avenue for Go Skateboarding Day on June 21. A few dozen skaters showed up and some even used the procession as a protest for recent racial injustices. The group seemed to have traction, so Mekelburg kept thinking of ideas.
“I had the idea of a by skateboarders, for skateboarders group that can have a voice,” he said. “Recently, it’s blown up into something more than I expected.”
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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