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New skatepark concept unveiled

The Nelson skateboard community got a glimpse into the future at an open house Tuesday night
Local skateboarders take a look at the new concept drawings at a meeting on Tuesday night at the Hume Hotel.

The Nelson skateboard community got a glimpse into the future at an open house Tuesday night that had the historic Hume Room abuzz with excitement.

“So this is nine years in the making… I don’t know about you guys, but I’m really stoked,” Kootenay Outdoor Skatepark Society board member Rob Levesque told the 80-plus people gathered in the downtown hotel banquet room.

The Tuesday night skatepark concept unveiling is an important step in the process of building an outdoor facility on the 11,000 square foot plot of land adjacent to the Nelson and District Community Complex parking lot.

“This is a public space design for a skatepark, but something everybody can celebrate and enjoy,” said New Line Skateparks vice president Trevor Morgan.

Those in attendance included young skateboarders, parents, service club representatives, city council members and business owners.

New Line Skateparks is the company contracted to oversee the project. On Tuesday night, Morgan ran the crowd through the new concept that was developed based on preliminary ideas thrown out a design workshop this past spring. It was explained that the New Line design team had to work with the unique piece of property that has been provided to the local skatepark society by the Regional District of Central Kootenay and make it fit into the surroundings.

Called the Nelson Skate Plaza, New Line describes the concept as “detailed authentic plaza terrain complimented by a compact bowl unit and flow section.” Also incorporated into the design are features that help “tell the Nelson story” which includes local artwork and unique concrete design that mirrors the mountainous terrain.

“It looks amazing,” Levesque told the Star after the meeting. “It works in a great many ways, everybody can use it regardless of your skill or age. Aesthetically it’s beautiful, I think it will be a great point of pride in the town.”

Getting to this point has been a challenge for those advocating for an outdoor skatepark. Over the last decade, local leaders have played a shell game with prospective sites and on several occasions those behind the idea have watched other interests take priority.

Despite the optimism amongst skateboarders, Morgan explained the Nelson park is still early in the process.

The unveiling of the concept and Tuesday night’s meeting is what New Line considers the end of phase one. Phase two will begin when the final working drawings — tweaked with input provided Tuesday night — are submitted in mid-December. At that point local organizers will have a budget to work from and a more realistic understanding of just how much cash it will take to bring the skatepark to reality.

Though Morgan couldn’t be specific about the cost, he did state that today’s price is roughly $45 per square foot, which would put the local project in the $500,000 range.

Levesque admits that number is daunting.

“All we can do is keep going until we get there,” Levesque said. “We are way past the point of no return on this, we can do it.”

So far the society has raised just over $50,000, but getting to the stage of working drawings will allow more opportunities for the group.

“With having the design, it’s a really good tool for fundraising,” Levesque said. “It’s a big step in the process because now we can actually bring the product to people organizations and say ‘heh, this is what we are going to do.’”

After the meeting, young skateboarders were pleased with what was presented.

“It’s awesome… I like everything about it,” said 14-year-old Nelson resident Cosmo Rich.

One of the bright young stars on the local skateboard circuit, Rich said his peers are growing impatient with the process.

“I think everyone thinks it’s kind of dumb that they have been planning this for so long and it still hasn’t happened,” said Rich. “But people are pretty excited about it now.”

Rich specializes in transition skateboarding which is the bowl element of the sport. To fulfill his passion, Rich has had to rely on his father to take him to other outdoor parks in the region like Slocan City and Castlegar.

The young athlete agrees the cost of the Nelson outdoor facility is high, but hopes the adults in the community understand there is a tremendous need for this outlet.

“It’s going to be a positive place for people to go,” he said. “There are a lot of kids in Nelson involved in drugs and stuff, this gives people a place to go where they can do something good.”

Levesque is confident the community will get behind the youth and make the Nelson Skate Plaza a reality.

“It’s an important part of the journey, we are definitely a lot closer,” Levesque said of the Tuesday meeting. “I can almost feel the grinds and see the people using this park. A year ago I couldn’t say that because there was this continuing cycle of support being pulled. It’s definitive now, we know what we need to do to make this happen.”