Dave Shively: A skater’s home
I have no interest in moving to Trinidad, but I felt a little upset when I found out that this sleepy Colorado town best known as a Mecca for sex change operations could boast better facilities than Steamboat. And I’m not just talking about their Burger King.
While our town plays home to a slew of outdoor amenities ranging from state-of-the-art to world-class, the lack of a decent skateboard park leaves many wondering. Jon Casson, director of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club’s snowboarding program, criss-crosses the state with his summer skateboarding program to find the concrete, in-ground, all-weather parks that have become the norm, not only for comparable resort communities, but also in towns like Montrose, Fairplay, Salida and of course, Trinidad.
“Colorado ranks third in the country for the most public skateparks per capita, but since the original modular skatepark was built here, the otherwise booming industry has passed Steamboat by,” Casson said.
Spearheading the skateboarding communities’ efforts to improve their lot, Casson raised $100,000 through the Steamboat Skatepark Alliance. After spending just over half of that to fix, improve and make the Howelsen park rideable, Casson has been on a quest to get a new park built, but hit bureaucratic roadblocks when it came to getting a site approved by City Council.
With an over-crowded park that Casson said does not accommodate what skaters want to ride, it seems odd that the city would not rally behind Casson’s efforts to create a better park that would require less maintenance, especially considering that with Alliance funds, it would cost them nothing.
Take Jeff Jackel, recreation director for the city of Carbondale. After their original wooden park was deemed unsafe to ride because it was “subject to the elements and always falling apart,” Jackel sought out designers and budgeted a plan that was approved by the town trustees for a prime spot in a town park next to the high school.
With the green light, local contractors and excavators donated and provided materials at cost to create what became Colorado’s premier park.
The total cost to the city of Carbondale? $150,000-the same amount Casson said he had lined up from a private donor, but was forced to turn down because there was no agreed-upon site.
During the design process for the city park to be built in the Bear River Parcel, acreage was set aside for a new skate park to be developed, but both Casson and City Council President Ken Brenner know the realization of that plan is years away.
Brenner supports the idea of building a new facility in town and said he felt it’s an important community need that should receive high prioritization this fall when a new council considers budget requests next month.
If he can get a site approved, Casson already has a design team lined up and believes Steamboat can have a park of its own by next summer’s end.
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In an effort to make Steamboat Springs Transit buses safer and more accessible, solar-powered lighting in bus shelters and a GPS-triggered automatic voice system that will announce stops in English and Spanish are being implemented.