Rossland Skatepark Association ramps up efforts

Andrew Zwicker
By Andrew Zwicker
April 8th, 2010

An active crowd of 75 folks, seemingly all in support of a skate park in Rossland, got together to rally the troops on Tuesday night. In the first of what will become regularly monthly meetings, the Rossland Skatepark Association (RSA) led an introductory meeting to really get the grassroots effort rolling.

This next round of planned meetings is a reboot for the group following a few recent setbacks. In December, City Council helped the RSA forward by allowing them a two year span to seek out funding and granting opportunities to construct a 15,000 square foot skate park on the west corner of the Emcon lot in Upper Rossland,as reported here. While not guaranteeing the RSPA a piece of city-owned land, the intent was to assist the group’s grant writing efforts. With a promise of land, the likelihood of successful grant applications improves dramatically.

Since then, the RSA has seen a backlash from some neighbouring residents around the Emcon lot who are not in favour of a skatepark at that location. Acknowledging a failure on their part to undergo due process to gain approval for a site from residents, the RSA is now embarking on a new tack.

“After the council decision, it felt like things were going way too easy for us,” noted the RSA’s Aaron Cosbey. “We realized after our consultation meeting with the neighbours that they had some legitimate reasons for not wanting a park in that location; we needed to step back a bit and make sure we were going through a process that would ensure that the park was a real fit and a win-win situation for everyone. It’s not just our park, it’s the city’s park, it’s the riders’ park–and we really want everyone to be involved in the process so that we get the best possible park in the best possible location.”

Skateparks generally cost between $25 and $35 per square foot to construct. The RSA is looking at constructing a 15,000 square foot facility that is expected to cost around $525,000. That said, a big part of the presentation on Tuesday night was all about bringing together a volunteer efforts wherever possible to work with professional skatepark builders to both lower costs and build a greater sense of rider ownership in the facility. While a professional skatepark company is essential in the process–to make sure the park is constructed in a quality manner that will withstand the test of time–the group is actively searching out people who can contribute either materials or volunteer hours.

“If your uncle has a Bobcat, bring him out; if you know someone who can donate some concrete bring ‘em on board. If you can pick up a shovel, we can use your help,” said Heath Clement of the RSA council.

The RSA currently has about $20,000 in its coffers and has a long way to go to get to the funds it needs. That’s not to say it can’t be done and can’t be done in the near future. The group is aiming to have the funds in place before their agreement with the city ends in December 2011. Fundraising efforts have already been ramped up, with the Rotary Club adopting the skatepark as its cause for the next two years.

“We really kind of lucked into that one, timing wise,” commented Cosbey. “The Rotary likes to take on a new cause every two years, generally, and at the same time we were thinking of going to them, they were thinking of coming to us, and it’s worked out really nicely. It was a huge win for us.”

Already this year, the Rotary has held a wine and cheese night benefitting the RSA and has more events planned. The Rossland Radio Co-op has been a big supporter as well, donating the profits from their second annual “The Price is Jeopardy,/Deal or No Fortune” game night, which was recently a sold out event.

The group’srecently-launched website is going to be the new hub of the their activities, events and fundraising efforts. “The site is just recently up. We’ll really need all of you in the skate community to jump on board and post pictures, stories, events and whatever you want, really. It’s all about building a voice for the skate community. When we go back to council for approval, this site will really be a big part of our presentation showing just how active the skate community is in Rossland,” added Jacob Jamin.

The group is attempting to recreate similar fundraising efforts that nearby communities such as Kaslo and Slocan have pulled off in recent years, efforts which have resulted in top quality parks. Kaslo raised an estimated hundred dollars per resident through their efforts, stemming largely from a huge volume of bake sales. The Rossland group is planning T-shirt sales, sticker sales and any other ideas or events that people in the community come up with or wish to organize for the group. The two year process is really intended to be a full-on grassroots endeavor. If there is something you can contribute, they want to hear about it.

While an actual park in Rossland is still a few years away, with construction ideally planned for summer 2012, the group is working on two efforts to both bring more skating to Rossland as well as get Rossland skaters out to the other parks in the area. Trevor Kehoe has joined the RSA council and is actively working to bring the Kootenay Skate Series to town. Originally planned for June, the hope is now to incorporate the mini-ramp event into Golden City Days and set up a course on Washington Street. A skate bus is also in the works to take local skaters around the seven stop tour. If you’re interested in the skate bus or helping bring the KSS event to Rossland you’re encouraged to check out the RSA website.

The next step in the RSA’s crusade will be a meeting on the first Tuesday of every month starting May 4th at the Rossland Public Library. That first meeting will be all about where the park should ultimately be built. Anyone and everyone that wants to get involved is invited and encouraged to come out.



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