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Aspen OKs skateboard park

Sarah S. Chung

With final approval from the Aspen City Council in hand, a public skateboard park could be open as soon as this fall.

“It’s great to see this finally happen,” said local skateboarder Jesse Davis. “We’ve been working on this for eight years and watched it go from little meetings to big meetings to this. Everybody’s really, really excited about this.”

Last night, the council unanimously approved construction of a 17,000-square-foot skateboard park and relocation of an existing basketball court at Rio Grande Park.

The skateboard park will be built below ground level. It will feature a half-pipe ramp and offer skating amenities for skateboarders of all skill levels, from beginners to experts.

According to city parks planner Scott Chism, the “best scenario” for construction would have the skateboard park ready for use in late September or early October.

In order to complement existing uses of Rio Grande Park, such as Theatre in the Park, “dense” landscaping buffers will surround both the skateboard park and the new basketball court, he said.

“A vegetative screen will separate the active verses the passive uses. Lowering the [skateboard park] and the screening should serve to separate the uses visibly and audibly,” Chism said.

Theatre in the Park officials supported the skateboard park conceptually, but were concerned about potential noise problems from skateboarders during performances.

There will be no additional lights at the park to allow for nighttime recreation, but if problems occur in the overlapping period between dusk and the beginning of a theater performance, council members seemed open to ceasing recreational uses of the park early during the theater season.

“I just don’t want to legislate something that may never be a problem. Let’s see what happens first,” Mayor Rachel Richards said.

But as a preventative measure, council members directed Chism to look into possibly lowering the grade of the basketball court to further reduce sound.

The skateboard park will cost an estimated $250,000. In February, the council approved spending $100,000 the city received in state lottery proceeds and $100,000 in existing city parks department funds on the project. The remaining $50,000 will come from a local, private donation.

Since the Rio Grande Master Plan lists transportation uses as the priority for the area, site plans for the skateboard park and the relocated basketball court were designed to accommodate a potential trolley system in the future.


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