Fri Apr 9th, 2021
Jeremy Wade Shockley
The Southern Ute Drum
Categories: Top Stories
Tags: Amy Barry, Basketball Courts, Cyrus Naranjo, Dustin Weaver, Elijah Weaver, Public, Robin Duffy-Wirth, Sarafina Chackee, Sie Chackee, Skatepark Tour, skaters, Southern Ute Education Department, Southern Ute Reservation, State-of-the-art park, Sunshine Cloud Smith Youth Advisory (SCSYAC) and Youth Employment Program (YEP) Coordinator, Sunshine Cloud Smith Youth Advisory Council (SCSYAC), SunUte Director Robin Duffy-Wirth, SunUte Playground, SunUte Recreation Center, Sunute's Skate Park, Virgil Morgan, Welcome Addition, Youth Leaders
On Sunday, April 4, members of the Sunshine Cloud Smith Youth Advisory Council (SCSYAC) were invited, along with their friends to have the first official skate at Sunute’s new skate park in Ignacio.
With temporary fencing scheduled to come down a day later, Monday, April 5, SunUte Recreation and the Southern Ute Education Department wanted to give this opportunity to the youth leaders, who made this dream a reality for their peers and the community.
“I’m excited to finally see this day come for the youth to skate their park,” said SunUte Recreation Manager Virgil Morgan. “They have the chance to work on their skills. I could definitely see the next pro skateboarder come from out of here.”
Unseasonably warm temperatures and blue bird skies made for an idyllic afternoon in the skate park. Located at SunUte park, between the basketball courts and recently remodeled SunUte playground; the Tribe’s new skate venue borders the nature trail neighboring the Pine River and offers scenic views of the Southern Ute Reservation.
Early design plans had earmarked the location of the park at the old Sky Ute Casino site, adjacent to Ignacio’s main traffic thoroughfare, and across from Ignacio’s Thriftway convenience store. Preliminary planning proved difficult, and the site required costly infrastructure upgrades, in addition to general safety concerns surrounding the proximity to the highway.
“The SCSYAC were a part of every major decision during the design of the park; they were consulted regarding the color scheme they wanted for the tile and the rails,” explained SunUte Director Robin Duffy-Wirth. “They went on a skatepark tour of about six to seven parks to see what they liked and what they didn’t like, eventually putting together a list of what they wanted in their park. All the youth in the area that attended our community meetings had a vote on the final layout. Youth Council had some tough decisions to make. Originally the youth wanted the park at the old casino site. After seeing how much more park they could get if they moved it behind SunUte, they voted to move it.”
“I would like to thank all the youth (now young adults) and staff that had a hand in this along the way. This was a long time coming and there were many hours put into it before I ever got involved,” Duffy-Wirth emphasized. “This is truly a dream come true. Thank you!!”
The Southern Ute skatepark is a state-of-the-art park. It was designed with beginners to advanced skaters in mind and by listening to input from tribal youth. The park has all the features and elements the SCSYAC asked for including: a bowl, wall, rails, ¼ pipe, and ample surface to bike or skate.
The tribal youth who came out on Sunday, brought everything from traditional skate boards to long boards, testing out everything from the newly painted rails to the large skate bowl.
“Not all of the sitting Youth Council members were able to make it to the event, but it was great that Elijah Weaver was able to make it as he has been working on the skate park the longest,” said Dustin Weaver, Youth Employment Program Coordinator for the Southern Ute Education Department. “Seeing the few youth that were invited and were able to make it to the Youth Council’s opening and seeing them experience the skate park finally — was great. All the smiles, laughs, horse play and teaching that went on for the event was amazing.”
“I feel great about the opening of not only the skate park, but other parks as well, [as it] will give the youth a chance to reconnect with each other and get some much-needed outdoor time,” said Weaver. “Taking safety precautions into account such as mask wearing, social distancing when able, etc.”
“I have been involved for the last ten years with this skate park; first as the Executive Officer delegated to work with the youth council and reestablish the youth council at that time,” stated Southern Ute tribal member Amy Barry. “To help them envision what their ultimate vison would entail.”
“I recognized that prior to me, there had been numerous council members, and other individuals involved. Ten years ago, it was a reachable goal for that group, since that time the youth council has really evolved — so has the vision for the skate park,” said Barry. “That was one of the goals of Chairman Newton in the past, we really have met that goal. People and the community are pumped up, the Tribal government, leadership, youth, have stayed strong towards this vison and made it a reality.”
The official naming of the skate park is underway with the youth council and tribal leadership working together to find a fitting title. Meanwhile the park is open to the public and will certainly be a welcome addition to SunUte park and the community of Ignacio.