The Hamilton Skate Park was officially opened last Saturday, and Circle 13 Skate Park organizer Bryan Dufresne was on hand to welcome the many skaters, bikers and gawkers of all ages who attended the fun affair. Music and refreshments were provided for free and raffle tickets for protective helmets were sold to raise money for ongoing maintenance of the facility and grounds.
According to Dufresne, the idea of having a skate park in Hamilton first came up about 25 years ago. Two different groups over at least two decades, he said, tried to raise the money.
“I’ve been involved for about ten years,” he said, “heavily the last three.”
The Circle 13 group consolidated community support over the last few years and found a willing and helpful partner in the City of Hamilton. The park was made possible through local donations and sponsors. The Discovery Centre in Hamilton and the Living Centre in Stevensville provided significant matching funds for the effort, as did Pearl Jam bassist and Montanan, Jeff Ament, who has helped to build parks all across the state.
Volunteers have been essential to the effort, turning out even at the last minute to lay sod for the grand opening ceremony. Thirty-four members of the Trapper Creek Job Corps added a real boost to the project.
At 13,000 square feet, it is not only the largest skate facility in the Bitterroot Valley, but organizers say it’s even larger than Missoula’s.
The park was designed to serve skaters of all abilities and give beginners a place where they can practice and develop their skills. But it also serves the more accomplished and daring with features like the deep bowl.
Dufresne said that the partnership that formed with the City of Hamilton through the purchase of the Claudia Driscoll Park land was crucial to the skate park’s success. He said he was very appreciative of the way the city took up with the skate park idea and helped make it a reality.
Looking out over the crowded skate park, Dufresne said, “I’m so excited to see all the kids enjoying the park. That’s why we went through the entire process to begin with, and I’m insanely relieved that we are about to cross the finish line.”