By Krystal Spring/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
It's been in the works for nearly three years, and now a city skate park is inching closer to becoming a reality in Havre.
Crews have already begun building the facility's foundation. Cement footings and a skating bowl were poured earlier this week, according to Havre Mayor Bob Rice, a major supporter of the skateboard park. Rice said he expects the concrete work to be finished by the end of June if weather permits.
"It's time to get it done. We're anxious to move on with this," Rice said.
With the skating park so close to becoming operational, Rice said he was disappointed with a recent setback in its completion plans. The city and the Havre Skateboarding Association were working with a Canadian company to supply the skating facility's modular components - including ramps, rails and other equipment obstacles. The company initially quoted a total price of $32,000, Rice said, and the city sent a $15,700 down payment several months ago. The company has yet to supply what was promised, he added.
"They're not only having problems getting the equipment," said Rice, "They also asked for $32,000 more than they originally requested."
Efforts to reach officials of the company for comment were unsuccessful Thursday and today. The company's phone number was disconnected and e-mails were not being accepted.
"If I have to, I'll take out a personal loan to get this park going," Rice said.
He said he requested that the deposit money be returned earlier this week so the equipment can be purchased elsewhere.
"We just need to regroup and find a new equipment company," Rice said. "No worries; the kids will definitely have something to jump on this summer."
The skateboarding facility will be located 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. Parks and Recreation Department director Dave Wilson said the park will be designed as a "nondirect supervision facility." But that doesn't mean skaters have free rein - they'll have to abide by rules and regulations that will be posted at the facility. Similar types of nondirect supervision skate parks operate in Missoula and Kalispell.
"The park will get the kids off the street and into a safe place," Wilson said.
Getting to the construction phase of the skate park has been a long, uphill battle, but park supporters say it's been worth it.
"We're finally at the point where we can do some things to move this project forward," said Wilson, who was pleased to see the work the construction crews have already done at the park. "The community's really been behind us. And though it's been a long process, the extra time has allowed us to be careful about our planning, so we can create a functional, safe facility for our kids."
The total cost of the skate park is estimated at $80,000. The money was raised through federal grants, the Tony Hawk Foundation, community events, and individual and business donations.
Rice said he hopes to have the initial phase of the skate park construction completed this summer. Fencing, lighting and landscaping will follow. There are also plans to build 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.