By Michael Howell
Although some final work on the surrounding grounds will not take place until next spring, the newly constructed Stevensville Skatepark (aka Sk8park) located in Lewis and Clark Park in Stevensville is ready for action and skaters are already on the roll.
The total cost of construction of the “world class” skate park is a whopping $178,000. But a very determined skate park committee was able to raise enough money to get the infrastructure installed in an incredible nine months. But Committee Co-Chairman Raymond Smith, one of the principle drivers behind the project, will be the first to tell you that it wasn’t the committee alone who made it happen. It was the skaters, the community, and donors from around the nation and the world (they got donations from the United Kingdom and even as far away as Tasmania) that made it happen.
The first fundraiser was conducted last February by the young skaters themselves who sold roses for Valentine’s Day at the First Friday event on Main Street in Stevensville. The project then got a huge boost when musician Jeff Ament of the famed Pearl Jam came to town, looked at the site and the proposed facility and made a large donation. Then Bill Watkins, local owner of the Living Centre and Discovery Care Center, made a huge donation and the rest of the community, here and abroad, followed up.
According to Smith, the in-kind donation from Donaldson Brothers Concrete, a crucial component to the project, was much appreciated, as well as donations from the Montana Skate Park Association, the Rapp Family Foundation, the Stevensville Community Foundation, the Stevensville Civic Club, and the kids themselves. He said the project could not have gotten off the ground without the commitment of the Stevensville Town Council and Mayor Gene Mim Mack.
“I can’t say enough to the Town about how much this means,” said Smith. He said you can already see the real results of all the work in the faces of the kids that showed up to skate on opening day. One of them was already skating at dawn.
“These kids are our future,” said Smith. He said skateboarders have been tarnished with an undeserved reputation and looked on by too many people as delinquents or drug users. He said the committee and the kids have made a great effort to dispel that misconception. He said the kids themselves were committed to maintaining the facility and he had no doubt, after watching their fundraising efforts, that they would.
Some money is still needed to put the finishing touches in place next spring, the planting of grass and the installation of benches, etc. He said the committee was already looking at other improvements like the much needed improvements of the bathroom facility at the park. But for now, the skaters are on the roll.