Westlake Skatepark in Grand Junction has an uncertain future
Special to the Free Press
Built nearly two decades ago, Westlake Skatepark, located at 325 W. Orchard Ave., is finally set to undergo renovations. What those renovations will look like, however, is yet to be determined.
At a community meeting on June 17, Grindline Skateparks, Inc., a concrete design and construction company based out of Seattle, Wash., proposed five revamps for the park with costs ranging from $3,500, to add a deck at the top of the eastside bank, to $21,000, to add a quarter pipe with steel coping to one side of the park. The problem? The project has only been allocated $25,000 total.
“There are some other monies available, but it just depends on how much people can fundraise,” said Ron Felt, Parks Supervisor for Grand Junction Parks and Recreation.
A local family has offered to match up to $5,000, but according to local skater Robbie Arias, 42, fundraising efforts have fallen short.
“We’ve talked about [fundraising], but we haven’t tried hard enough,” he said.
Josh Niernberg, lifelong skateboarder and owner of Bin 707 Foodbar in downtown Grand Junction, expressed concerns for the city’s budget as well as fundraising.
“They should be spending more than $25,000 a year just for maintenance of [Westlake Skatepark],” Niernberg said. “What that park is and what it needs is so much more than what they want to spend on it. They’re still asking us to fundraise, but I feel like all of the avenues haven’t been explored in terms of Colorado Lottery funding, or maybe Tony Hawk Skatepark Foundation funding.”
Time is running out, however, as Grindline is looking to begin construction at Westlake by mid-August and finish by mid-September.
“We’ve already passed the deadline for comments back on [the renovations], so we put it back out to them,” Felt said. “We’re in that process right now.”
According to Niernberg, Grand Junction is missing out on a prime opportunity for economic growth.
“I know that I can speak for a lot of people, including myself, when I say that I don’t want to skate [at Westlake],” Niernberg said. “The fact is, in 2015, that park is old, dilapidated, rundown, not maintained — whereas the rest of the state has all of these great parks that have been great for the local economies.”
Westlake skater Zach Gadeken, 18, agreed, referencing other Colorado towns such as Rifle and Carbondale.
“All these little mountain towns have much better parks,” Gadeken said. “We’re taking our business and going out of town, whereas they could be bringing it here.”
Currently, Westlake consists of 18,000 square feet of three large concrete bowls, a street skate area, rails, walls, and ramps, with many self-built contributions from local skateboarders accumulated throughout the years.
“We’ve been hearing for years that we’re gonna get stuff built and it just never happens,” Julian Herrera, 15, said. “A little quarter pipe, and I’d be happy.”
There are plans to build a brand new skatepark in town, but the Matchett Park Master Plan will not go into effect until the city’s 2015 budget has been finalized and enough funds have been allocated for the project.
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