Town council finally endorses skate park move to Town Park

It will eventually just be part of town, even if it sounds weird now

by Mark Reaman

Philosophically at least, the Crested Butte Town Council is behind moving the skate park out of Big Mine Park. They voted Monday to support its relocation into the Town Park behind the Pitsker softball field and to move the volleyball courts and horseshoe pits over to the Eighth Street Greenway by Rainbow Park.

There is no schedule or timeline to build a new 10,000-square-foot skate park at Town Park and no money is currently budgeted for the idea. But now consultants have an area to work with and design a new skate park for a specific space.

Part of the council’s reasoning to support the move was to honor the direction of citizen input at the numerous Big Mine Park Master Plan public meetings. The town staff had presented pros and cons of various relocation sites and recommended the Eighth Street Greenway for the skate park, but the council did not want to potentially affect even one affordable housing lot that could eventually be built by Rainbow Park.

Councilperson Roland Mason said he supported moving the skate park out of Big Mine and was leaning toward using the Eighth Street Greenway. But he wanted to give the public an opportunity to really voice its opinion on the recommended site.

Councilman Skip Berkshire voiced support for Town Park since “there are already recreational features there and it would be easy to move the volleyball and horseshoe areas.” He too wanted to give the public a chance to speak for or against the idea.

Councilmember Glenn Michel argued to keep the skate park where it is now. “It is an established amenity in a good location,” he said. “It is important to recognize that the Nordic Center and the Ice Rink can achieve their goals with the skate park staying there.”

Berkshire said the citizens’ steering committee had voted to recommend moving the skate park. Michel said the “vote” that took place was simply using a typical facilitation exercise of placing dots by preferred options and that process had been “stacked” by the Nordic skiing community.

“I have also heard compelling arguments for reasons to keep the sledding hills as an important amenity in town. It gives us the opportunity to do it right,” responded Berkshire. “I am not hung up on waiting until we get the money lined up for a new skate park. I am in favor of a philosophical commitment. The rest will follow. That’s how it always works. Two quality amenities are better than two suboptimal venues.”

“If we could relocate the sledding hill, I’d want to keep the skate park where it is but we are being told there is no other place,” added councilman Jim Schmidt. “And going over by Rainbow, I have a real problem losing any affordable housing lots. The big problem here is affordable housing.”

“I agree with the concept that we should listen to the citizens’ committee,” said mayor Aaron Huckstep.

“They have never given the council a formal recommendation,” said Michel.

“It was not a voting process per se but the process led to the opinion that the skate park should be relocated,” explained parks and recreation director Janna Hansen.

“And I agree that we should not lose any affordable housing lots,” said Huckstep. “So I’m comfortable with this at Town Park.”

“I’m comfortable with either place,” said Mason. “Honestly, in ten years after it’s been there awhile, it will just be part of town, even if it sounds weird now.”

The council voted 5-0 to endorse a skate park relocation to Town Park. Councilmen Shaun Matusewicz and Chris Ladoulis were not at the meeting.

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