SUNDRE — Two, new concrete pads that were recently poured at the local skatepark will not only improve safety but also provide a new feature for users.
The work was completed shortly after council approved the roughly $5,200 unbudgeted project late in June.
The skatepark was originally built in two phases.
The first was finished under budget with a remaining pool of about $20,000 in funding that was subsequently allocated toward the second phase, which featured the addition of access sidewalks and a seating area, said Paul Shippy, a Sundre resident who has been involved in liaising between some of the park’s users and the municipality to develop a design based on local input.
The most recent upgrades were also designed locally and completed at a cost far lower than what the expense would have racked up had a dedicated skatepark design and construction company been contracted, said Shippy.
Back in June, he had contacted a couple of town councillors by email outlining some ongoing issues that remained following the completion of the second phase.
“One of them being the debris that users were dragging in in their attempt to access the park safely from the south side off the sidewalk,” Shippy said during a phone interview.
Although typically not as much of a concern for users riding BMX trick bikes, debris like rocks and pebbles pose a more significant trip hazard for skateboards and scooters, he said.
“Rocks are just really dangerous for skateboards and scooters. Not so much bikes, but bikes too,” he said. “There’s always been a need to address that.”
Although some people had suggested simply sweeping the concrete’s surface more frequently, Shippy said the municipality’s staff already have plenty on their plates without adding even more daily tasks. So a simpler solution, he added, was to pour a roll-in concrete pad.
Prior to the addition, users coming up the sidewalk from the parking lot would have to drop into the quarter pipe, which is no easy feat for novice riders, he said.
As a result, less experienced riders would access the skatepark from the grass, which began degrading into gravel and pit run and inevitably led to debris getting dragged onto what should be a smooth concrete surface.
“It had been recommended historically to add a roll-in there, so that you could just roll in as opposed to dropping in,” he said.
Upgrades guided by user input
The latest upgrade also included the addition of a large, 8 by 20-foot flat concrete pad on the northwest corner of the park, which vastly increases the useable area. Although not yet technically boasting new features like jumps and rails, the pad will open proverbial doors, he said.
“Now, there’s a great big open space for more creativity, which is the name of the game when it comes to these individual sports — it’s all about how you express yourself.”
Shippy said he gleaned input from some of the skaters and other parks users to determine whether they supported the changes.
“It was local skatepark users that were guiding this,” he said.
“They were just very excited about the idea that someone was going to be a bit proactive in making those changes,” he said, adding the users he spoke with felt the upgrades would provide a big improvement to both safety and overall usability.
Project completed in-house
So, Shippy proceeded to seek a quote from Steven Crouch, the owner of S & S Masonry. As the contractor had other jobs in the area lined up at the time, Crouch was able to offer a very affordable rate, which Shippy then forwarded to council for official approval.
“The pour happened basically within a month (of sending the email to members of council in late June), which is pretty fast,” he said.
“It came together really quickly — a lot quicker than what I would have imagined,” he said.
“I appreciated that council and administration worked together to expedite this. That’s a breath of fresh air — to see a need and to attend to it quickly, that’s nice.”
After all, the issue was not only a matter of safety, but also did not exactly present a particularly “huge budget hit.”
In the grand scheme of things, $5,000 for a big improvement isn’t a major financial burden, he said.
Additionally, he said there was far more to the 4 by 12-foot roll-in feature on the park’s south side than simply pouring a flat surface concrete pad.
“It’s not just a pad. It’s contoured and quite expertly created. There’s a lot of skill involved in that,” he said.
“It’s not flat — it’s at an angle, it drops an elevation of about four or five feet, it’s got drainage and it flows with the contours of the park,” he said, later adding many concrete companies would shy away from such a specialized project, and that contractors that design and build skateparks would charge far more.
“It’s a seamless addition to what’s already there, and just allows the flow to be maintained without some of the problems from before,” he said.
A "really good deal"
A specialized contractor would have charged about as much just to take a look at the skatepark as the entire cost of the project that was done in-house, never mind factoring the additional expenses of designing and then building the upgrades, he added.
So to complete all of that work for a little more than $5,000 was a “really a good deal — it’s very much a bargain,” he said.
And the initial two phases never cost local taxpayers a dime.
“The whole skatepark was built with donated funds and services in-kind,” he said, hailing the project as a prime example of what can be accomplished when a community works together.
“Sometimes, I know it’s easy for us, as constituents or residents of Sundre, to gripe about things. But all it took was a conversation and email with the right people, and something happened.”