Sam Hines looks tired. He leans back behind the counter in Meta Skate Shop, which he opened in 2001, and breathes a long sigh.
“The Parks and Rec department just doesn’t have the funds,” he says between helping customers and answering the phone.
Meta is crowded with young people trying on skate gear, practicing their grinds on a metal rail in the store, and checking out decks.
“Basically they told me they’re still open to the idea, but it’s not going anywhere anytime soon,” he says.
“The idea” is an upgrade, if not complete overhaul, of Scott Carpenter Skate Park, Boulder’s oldest. Built in 1999, it has not been renovated since.
The park was innovative at the time, and one of the first on the Front Range. Since then, towns like Arvada, Loveland and Lafayette have kept up with the growing skateboarder population and have better, and some say safer facilities to offer.
Brian Ball is the director of Square State Skate, a Boulder-based skateboarding camp and club. Square State Skate transports participating kids from Boulder and to neighboring municipalities with newer and better quality skateparks.
Ball said, “Scott Carpenter skatepark is simply not conducive for learning the fundamentals of skateboarding and by nature of its design, is not safe or inviting for groups of participants.”
In April 2016, The Boulder Weekly published “Skating to success” by Peter Ferrante. The piece detailed the efforts of Josh Agenbroad, an early advocate of renovating Scott Carpenter to connect with Parks and Recreation officials, the PLAY Boulder Foundation and the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. Agenbroad also began a Facebook page called “Boulder Needs A New Skatepark” to garner attention, support and signatures for moving plans forward. The page was last updated by Agenbroad on September 30. He did not respond to several requests for comments for this article.
But in his latest Facebook post he notes: “Howard Heuston Park might get a neighborhood skate spot. Parks and Rec is renovating this park, located in NE Boulder near Foothills and the Diagonal, and they have included a small skate park into one of the design concepts. However, it will be the first thing to get cut if/when the budget gets tight, so we need to show strong support.”
According to the Boulder Parks and Recreation Funds annual progress report released in 2015, the approved budget was $25.9 million. The Park Renovations category included investing $2.2 million in completing renovations of 12 city parks impacted by the 2013 flood.
As of Oct. 1, the final hybrid concept plan of renovations to Howard Heuston Park includes a 3,500 square foot skatepark, which might be considered a “pocket park” or a “skate spot” rather than a proper skatepark. Neighborhood skateparks range from 8,000 – 11,000 square feet.
But there is no discernible line item for Scott Carpenter skatepark renovations.
Undaunted, on a recent day at Scott Carpenter, many skaters are enjoying the good weather and getting some exercise.
Trevor Steelmon of Denver said, “I’ve been skating here since I was 14. I’m 26 now and it’s still the same. It’d say it’s an okay park. There are people skating here on a Tuesday afternoon, so that’s something.”
Whether skaters and skating advocates will continue to fight for a larger, improved skate park is unknown, but gauging by current community support, the number of skaters on the street, and the amount of customers at Meta Skate Shop, they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.