By Jerome Tharaud/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
After more than a year of planning, the Havre Park and Recreation Department will break ground on a skateboarding park Friday.
The ceremony will be held at 8 a.m. on Friday at the future site of the park, on a pocket of land at the base of the hill where Robert Patterson Memorial Park sits. The skate park will sit between Patterson Park to the south and Ninth Street to the north.
Havre Mayor Bob Rice said Wednesday he hopes the project will be done by the end of the summer.
"We've got the engineering all done up and we're ready to go to work," said Rice, who has been a major supporter of the project, which is estimated to cost between $60,00 and $80,000.
Skateboard Association president Steve Evans said there are between 100 and 200 skateboarders in town who would use the park, and possibly more.
Evans said the project would be good both for the kids, and for business owners downtown.
"I wanted to get the kids off the streets," Evans said. "The kids aren't going to be downtown any more. It should make them really happy."
First the dirt will be leveled off and a 60-by-120 feet concrete slab will be poured, Park and Recreation director Dave Wilson said Wednesday. The modular components - ramps, rails, and other obstacles that can be occasionally rearranged on the slab for greater variety - may not be in Havre for eight weeks, he said.
The Skateboard Association is considering using fiberglass components from Rec Ramps, a Calgary-based company, Evans said.
The company also insures the equipment for about $1 million per claim, Evans said, so the city would not be liable for injuries sustained on the equipment.
A representative from the association or the city still has to go to Calgary to inspect the components, Rice said.
Wilson said there will also be a 120-feet-long retaining wall along the hill on the south side that will help reduce the likelihood of erosion problems at the site, and also function as a quarter-pipe for skateboarders.
"All this is contingent on still having the funds," Wilson said. "We're very close to having all the funding."
Skateboard Association treasurer Charlie Grant said the association is about $2,000 short of the amount required to buy the equipment for the park. The association has the money for the concrete slab, he said, and has received many pledges to donate materials and labor.
Grant said that the current slab and equipment is only the first phase, and that the association will still need between $20,000 and $30,000 to complete their first plans, which include putting another slab with more equipment below the first slab.
"It's going to cost the taxpayers very little if any," he said.
Evans said the local Lions and Rotary clubs, the Sleeter Foundation, and numerous businesses and individuals have helped raise money for the project.
The city put forward $10,000 from its Capital Improvement Program for the project last year, Wilson said. About $12,000 was raised for the project at the Mayor's Ball fund-raiser in January. The city and the skateboard association have also applied for a few different grants that could mean more than $25,000 dollars for the project, he said.
There are plans for next summer to add lights, a fence, and landscaping around the park, Rice said.
Grant said the idea for the park started about three years ago when a group of parents got together with Bob Rice and formed a loose organization to plan a skatepark. Before that time, Grant said, some children were being charged with trespassing, a felony, for skateboarding on businesses' property downtown, and also city streets and sidewalks.
"I didn't want to see all these kids getting rap sheets for nothing," said Grant, who joined the effort in the spring of 2002. "It's going to give a lot of independent-minded youth a chance to develop their own individual skating ability."
The Skateboard Association was incorporated in June of 2002, formed a board, and began fundraising, Grant said.
Last fall it began meeting with different equipment vendors for the park, he said.