Ideas and concerns addressed as skatepark takes shape

Skaters, Dewayne Hendren, Nate Hendren and Cyrus Naranjo choose various concept ideas from drafts and mack-ups from existing skateparks.
Southern Ute Tribal Plkanner Doug McDonald began the meeting by discussing various topics the meeting would present, including safety, and various amenities.
A presentation from Brad Siedlecki, of Pillar Design Studios LLC of Phoenix, Ariz. Siedlecki spoke about the various skateparks his company has designed across the country, and how elements can be tailored to specific ideas and adhering to the vision of the community.
Planning emmbers discuss various design elements with community members at the youth skatepark meeting.
Skatepark Planning Committee, stand with Brad Siedlecki, Nate Hendren, Cyrus Naranjo, Elijah Weaver after the planning meeting.
Robert L. Ortiz | The Southern Ute Drum
Robert L. Ortiz | The Southern Ute Drum
Robert L. Ortiz | The Southern Ute Drum
Robert L. Ortiz | The Southern Ute Drum
Robert L. Ortiz | The Southern Ute Drum
Robert L. Ortiz | The Southern Ute Drum

A meeting was held to discuss design elements and address concerns, questions and input for the community skatepark to be built at the location where the Sky Ute Casino and Pino Nuche Restaurant used to sit, across from Thriftway.

A panel made up of the skatepark development team, WCA Construction, Artisans Skateparks, SEH, DHM Design, Pillar Design Studios and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe were on hand to answer questions and guide community members through the design process of the skatepark master plan.

The master plan for the skatepark was organized and hosted by the Southern Ute Tribal Planning Dept. at the Sky Ute Casino Resort on Tuesday, Oct. 29. Doug McDonald, Southern Ute Tribal Planner outlined a few topics for the presentation including: safety, budget concerns, and youth ideas for the facility.

The meeting featured a presentation from Brad Siedlecki, of Pillar Design Studios LLC of Phoenix, Ariz. Siedlecki spoke about the various skateparks his company has designed across the country, and how elements can be tailored to specific ideas and adhering to the vision of the community.

Pillar was founded in 2006 and is owned and operated by action sports enthusiast, Brad Siedlecki. As stated on their website, “Pillar came as a result of a need for appropriate design methodology pertaining to action-sport facility development. Pillar takes a different approach and style to design and implementation of Action Sports facilities, one unlike any other ‘skatepark company’ in the current market. The objective is to create facilities that offer distinctive site-specific designs, which are sensitive to both the client’s wants and users’ needs. Creating aesthetically pleasing parks that all community members can enjoy.”

Our number one concern is safety, but “I don’t want to take you off the streets and put you in a cage,” expressed Siedlecki. The process is started by coming up with elements from existing parks, amenities that are wanted and needed to provide an enjoyable “skate” experience. Discussions about: seating, tables, shade structures, restrooms, landscaping, even splash pads can be incorporated into the design of the skatepark.

“We want to incorporate the cultural aspects of the Utes: color, patterns, use of natural materials,” said Siedlecki. “If we unearth a big rock, I want to use it somehow in the design of the skatepark, not remove it, but use it.”

Pillar Designs has worked on skateparks from Raleigh, N.C., Cherokee, N.C., to Scottsdale, Ariz., and also a skatepark in Barbados, an island in the Caribbean.

“We make every skatepark different. How do we make it different? We incorporate what you want,” Siedlecki emphasized.

The 20 attendees, from youth to elders, asked various questions about the future skatepark. “Will the skatepark be able to handle longboards?” asked by LaTita Taylor, Southern Ute Education Director. “Yes, we can incorporate sidewalks, pathways, all stateable,” answered Siedlecki.

Regarding safety aspects, “We have the location of the store [Thriftway] across the street, will we incorporate a safe passage?” asked Southern Ute elder Neda Rhea Chackee.

McDonald addressed the safety concern to and from the Thriftway convenience store across the street from the skatepark. “We are not going to build a bridge. We have a fixed budget to work with, we will however address a guarded crosswalk, such as what we have already in front of the Growth Fund building,” said McDonald.

Safety was addressed heavily in the presentation, with HWY. 172 running parallel with the skatepark, and the Thriftway across the street, there will be heavy traffic from time to time. “We want to make the skatepark as safe as possible,” added Siedlecki. “The skatepark will be well lit, we want a well-lit design.” Security cameras, fencing, a first-aid station and even a panic button was brought up.

“Will there be a beginner skatepark?” asked Southern Ute youth, Vince Naranjo. “We want all aspects of the skatepark to be progressive, [from beginners to advanced] we want the skater to be able to progress with their skills.”

The skatepark will be a community skatepark, “for everyone to enjoy, all skate levels, even our older skaters can teach the younger skaters,” said Siedlecki. “The skatepark will be for everyone. It will also be a family place, a safe place, to hang out, and to skate.”

KSUT is in the process of building their new station, the Eddie Box Jr., Media Center just south of the skatepark site. “With a stage we can incorporate music. Skateboarders are artists too,” said Hendren. Parking already exists around the skatepark site, south in front of KSUT, and in the old casino parking lot, as well as north by the Moache-Capote Building.

Drug dealers and sex trafficking was asked about, could building a facility of this nature may attract this type of negative behavior?

“I’ve been skating since I was 11 or 12, we were harassed by the police. If we provide a safe environment, which will be very visible, the kids tend to police themselves,” said Siedlecki. “The difference between skaters our age, is we didn’t have adults [our parents] who skated, they lived a different lifestyle. We now have skaters my age who are the parents, and we support our children and the youth as skaters.”

“We have an opportunity to build something special, something unique in this community,” said Siedlecki. “Let’s got out of the norm.”

Money was allocated to the skate park project through Resolution 2010-122 by the late Chairman Jimmy Newton Jr. Newton. The resolution states, one half of the BP settlement money would go to the tribal membership and the second half would be put into a restricted fund for the youth. “Half went to the membership and the other half is going to go towards youth initiatives,” stated Southern Ute Councilman Adam Red in a Nov. 2018 article published in the Southern Ute Drum.

Per Resolution No. 2018-133: The skate park planning development team acquired land from a Southern Ute Tribal Council land dedication. The dedication comes from an area of tribal trust land, and development will be led by the SunUte Community Center.

The skatepark is in the planning stages, all concerns, questions and ideas can be brought before the planning development team at the next scheduled meeting. The Youth Park Design Alternative Presentation will be Tuesday, Dec. 3, at the Sky Ute Casino Event Center B from 6- 8 p.m.

The skatepark planning and development team will present the design alternatives for the skatepark and youth recreation master plan. Dinner will be also be served. For additional information contact Renee Tree, Tribal Planner administrative assistant at 970-563-2270.

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