Board members said they are supportive of the concept, but not if it is placed anywhere on the Routt County Fairgrounds.
Members of the Routt County Fair Advisory Board said they are supportive of the concept of a skatepark in Hayden on Thursday night, though that support is only if the skatepark finds a new location away from the Routt County Fairgrounds.
During a special meeting hosted by the Routt County Commissioners in Steamboat Springs on Thursday, several members of the Fair Advisory Board spoke against putting the skatepark anywhere on the fairgrounds, saying that land is needed for parking now and is planned for RV camping in the future.
“Not on our dirt. Damn sure not where it is located on our dirt,” said Don Hayes, vice president of the Routt County Fair Advisory Board. “We’ve only got 23 acres and believe it or not, God ain’t making any more of it.”
“I have no problem with a skate park. The town of Hayden owns property, put it on your own property,” said fair board member Kody May. “Put it on your own ground. … (The fairgrounds are) not your ground.”
Supporters and opponents of the skatepark both said they are doing their work “for the kids” on Thursday. Still, some opponents of the skatepark presented the issue as a choice between supporting 4-H kids or supporting kids who would use a skatepark. Supporters of the skatepark stressed those are sometimes the same kids.
Only one child spoke during public comment. The Hayden fourth-grader confidently slid a chair up to the podium in the commissioner’s hearing room and climbed on top of it so she could reach the microphone.
“I know all my friends (names) can’t be here because they have basketball,” the fourth-grader said, mentioning the names of some of her friends. “We support the skatepark.”
The concept of a new skatepark in Hayden has been talked about for more than two years, and the group Northwest Colorado Skate Dream has raised money to make a new park a reality. Several locations have been reviewed for the potential skatepark, with Town Manager Mathew Mendisco saying the location at the Routt County Fairgrounds was the clear favorite location in public meetings held by the town.
The roughly one-acre parcel is on the south side of the existing fairgrounds near Dry Creek Park, an area that the Routt County Fairgrounds Master Plan notes should be considered space that is functionally shared between the town and the county, though it is owned by the county and part of the fairgrounds.
Hayden has put $20,000 of its own money toward planning for the skatepark and has secured a $500,000 grant from the Colorado Health Foundation for construction, roughly half the total cost.
Emanual Quintero, who started Northwest Colorado Skate Dream and has brought several professional skateboarders to Hayden to build support for a new skate park, said events they have hosted at the exhibit hall at the fairgrounds have been popular among skaters in Hayden and beyond. While they could come to Steamboat, Quintero said he wanted kids in Hayden to be proud their town has a world-class skatepark.
“Why can’t they be proud of staying in their own town?” Quintero said. “We agree that this would be the best place for the skate park.”
Caption: An overhead rendering of the proposed skatepark at the Routt County Fairgrounds. (Town of Hayden/Courtesy)
Sites considered near the town’s dog park and near the Hayden Community Center were both rejected because of their proximity to residences and to Totally Tots’ playground. Members of the fair board suggested the town tear up existing tennis courts and build the skate park there.
The Fairgrounds location is preferred by the town because it is not directly adjacent to residences, but still centrally located. It also is big enough for certain features to be included at the skatepark that make it accessible to all levels of skaters, and to incorporate features that make it accessible for people with certain disabilities.
The Routt County Fairgrounds Master Plan was last updated in 2010 and calls for the area being proposed for the skatepark to be used for RV camping spaces. This development is not considered a priority at this time, there is no funding to develop those RV camping spaces currently and there is no telling when those spaces will be developed.
Current fairgrounds priorities include a new outdoor arena, an updated north restroom and a heated indoor workspace that could be used by Routt County Fairgrounds staff.
“We have a lot of work to do and nearly all of it would take place in the existing footprint of the facility. Expansion is not necessarily something that we’re even considering at this point, given the needs we have inside the facility,” said Routt County Facilities Maintenance Operations Manager Joe Stepan.
Still, members of the fair board warned that building the new skatepark would tie their hands at what could be done in the future. Hayes, who is a rodeo promoter, said he has worked to get bigger and better events at the fairgrounds. If those events are going to happen, they will need space for parking that the skatepark would consume.
“I’m on board with the skatepark, I love the idea of it for the kids and I know that Northwest (Colorado) Skate Dream has their dream of this happening,” said Noel Neal, fairgrounds manager and fair coordinator. “The fair board, 4-H, myself, other employees at the fairgrounds, we also have dreams that we want to complete.”
Kimberly Walker spoke last in public comment, noting that she thought it was odd opponents of the skatepark felt they had more ownership of the fairgrounds than the rest of the county.
“I’m struck by people saying that they didn’t feel like people should take their dirt and give it to someone else,” Walker said. “The kids that we’re talking about, they live in Hayden, which is in Routt County. Therefore, that is also their dirt.”
Another public meeting is planned for 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 5 at the Exhibit Hall at the Routt County Fairgrounds in Hayden to allow commissioners to get input from community members on the skatepark.
Top Photo Caption: Young skaters participate in a skateboarding event hosted at the Routt County Fairgrounds Exhibit Hall in November 2022. (Northwest Colorado Skate Dream/Courtesy)