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Town lends support to skate park project

Staff Writer

Pagosa-Skatepark-phase-2

Illustration courtesy of Mike Musgrove A skateboard competition and fundraiser will be held at Yamaguchi Skate Park on July 12. Sign-up starts at 9:30 a.m. and competitions will start at 10. There will be a long-board race on the sidewalk around the park, contests for the highest ollie, longest grind and longest manual. There will also be a street jam and over-40 competition. There is a $5 entry fee for competitors and spectators. All proceeds will go towards construction of the “skull” bowl.

Just in time for its eighth annual skateboard competition and fundraiser, which will start at 10 a.m.  on July 12 in Yamaguchi Park, the Skaters’ Coalition for Concrete secured significant financial assistance from the Pagosa Springs Town Council at last month’s meeting.

Several members of the Coalition, which is raising money for Phase II of the skate park, were in the audience at the council’s June 19 meeting to lend their support to Mike Musgrove’s presentation and request for funding.

“The Skaters Coalition for Concrete has been in business for ten years,” Musgrove, who is also the chairman of the town’s Parks and Recreation Commission, began, “helping to facilitate the construction of a concrete skate park in Pagosa Springs.”

Musgrove explained that Phase I of the park was completed with funding from private donors, the county and the town, and he expressed the group’s appreciation for the support it has received in the past.

“It has made a huge difference in our community,” Musgrove explained. “It’s down in Yamaguchi Park and it is being used. There’s nothing like it in the county, obviously; it’s a specialized feature and the kids go over there and are enjoying what we have right now.”

Musgrove then began to explain what the next phase of construction would entail. The full-sized bowl will be a more advanced feature that will appeal to older skaters and will offer a challenge to younger skaters as their skills improve.

“It will keep their interest,” Musgrove said, “so they won’t have to travel, as a lot of them already do, to Durango or Monte Vista or Montrose or as far away as Colorado Springs. We need to have a little more advanced features.”

Musgrove then went over the group’s current financial situation. The Springs Resort has generously donated $20,000 and the coalition has raised $1,500 through the Rail Jam snowboarding event they held last February on Reservoir Hill. In addition, the group has applied for $18,000 worth of 1A funding from Archuleta County’s Parks, Recreation, Open Space and Trails task force.

“This truly is a community project,” Musgrove pointed out, “and it’s going to add to the amenities Pagosa Springs offers, not only to locals from within the county, but also people traveling through.”

Musgrove argued that the skate park, which is well advertised with signage along U.S. 160, will entice tourists to stop and spend some time and money in town, especially if they have a car full of restless skater kids.

Interim town manager Greg Schulte then explained the second part of the Coalition’s request — town council’s assistance in applying for a grant from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO).

The Coalition is hoping that 60 percent of the $142,027 total expected cost of the project will come from GOCO or similar grants, but such grants are not usually awarded to private nonprofit organizations such as the Coalition; only municipalities can apply.

Town planner James Dickhoff outlined the grant cycle and explained that there are two application deadlines, one for the fall and one for the spring.

Council member John Egan clarified the grant funding was not yet in hand; the town still needs to apply. When Egan then asked about liability and insurance, Schulte explained that since it will be the property of the town, it would be covered under the town’s policy, just like any other playground equipment or park amenity.

Later, during the public comment part of the discussion, local skater Mike Kissle explained that adding this new feature will actually make the skate park safer. He compared it to a ski resort, where the slopes are marked as green for beginners, blue for intermediates and black for experts. “It does wonders for keeping people where it is most appropriate for their ability; we’re not putting advanced riders in right next to beginners, which can be inherently dangerous.”

“I appreciate the diversity of funding,” councilor David Schanzenbaker commented. “It really shows that the community supports this idea. I appreciate the Coalition’s efforts over the last ten years.”

Councilor Kathie Lattin agreed, adding that she had recently been in Yamaguchi Park with her 8-year-old grandson, who was admiring the older skaters. “I appreciate each and every one of you that have taken the time to stop what you were doing and show the younger generation what to do and how to do it.”

Lattin addressed the skaters in the audience, “To me it was just like a big sigh of relief, knowing that it wasn’t like, ‘Get out of my way, kid.’ My grandson sat there and then he was asked to come over so you guys could show him what to do … It was just the vibe of the people that are down there, willing to help the younger generation. I appreciate that and I think it speaks highly of the groups that are using this.”

“Skateboarding is a unique sport in that way,” Musgrove agreed. “That’s how you learn — not only from watching, but also from having the guys and girls who are better than you show you how to do it.”

Musgrove added that even with competitions, like the one coming up on July 12, skaters encourage each other and give each other high-fives when they pull off a difficult trick. It’s less about the competition and more about the camaraderie.

When mayor Don Volger asked if applying for a GOCO grant for the skate park would affect the town’s other grant applications, Dickhoff explained it might be the other way around; since the town recently received an award for the 6th Street pedestrian bridge, it might not have a very good chance with a new application for the skate park, but he would contact GOCO staff and see what they say.

Before Volger asked for a motion to approve the requested funding and direct staff to prepare the grant application, he asked for public comment. One person pointed out that GOCO is the leading funder of skate parks in Colorado, another asked if this would be a matter for the 2015 budget instead of an amendment to the current budget, and a third pointed out that amenities such as this not only attract tourists, but also young families looking for a good place to raise children.

In the end, Egan made the motion (with some help from Schulte) and the town council agreed to lend its support to the skate park construction project.

ed.fincher@pagosasun.com

This story was posted on July 3, 2014.