West Valley home to Utah’s largest skate parkOct 31, 2016 04:17PM ● By Travis Barton
More than 40 people participated in the ceremonial ribbon cutting including city officials and skaters. (Kevin Conde/West Valley City)
By Travis Barton | [email protected]
West Valley, Utah - The second largest city in Utah has its first skate park.
On Saturday, Oct. 8 at Centennial Park, city officials, community advocates and skate park participants cut the ceremonial ribbon to officially open the West Valley Skatepark. Skateboarders, bikers, in-line skaters and those with scooters were on hand to christen the new park. City officials said it’s the largest skate park in Utah.
“It’s another jewel to add to what we have here in West Valley City,” said Mayor Ron Bigelow to more than 100 people in attendance.
Located on the western portion of Centennial Park, the skate park started as an idea 15 years ago. At various times it was forgotten about, pushed to the back burner or funding would be pulled. But in March, the city passed a resolution to fund the $1.2 million project.
“Over the years we’ve tried to figure out ways to fund the project…it was kind of this ebb and flow, but over these last five years it really gained traction,” said Councilman Steve Vincent.
Kevin Astill, parks and recreation director, said for a long time there’s been a community demand for a skate park.
“People would ask us every year for a skate park, boy scouts would write letters to their elected officials and say we need a skate park,” Astill said.
Possibly the most important figure in bringing the skate park to fruition was community advocate Josh Scheuerman. He grew up in West Valley City two miles from where the skate park is now located. Scheuerman, 38, started coming to city council meetings when he was 23 to promote building a skate park in the city.
“I was scared to death. I didn’t know how to talk to city council or government officials. I just knew there was a skate park need,” Scheuerman said.
City officials said having a citizen advocate continuously fight for the skate park, bringing kids who would use the skate park before the council, was very important.
“He kept it in front and it was important for the elected officials to see faces,” Vincent said.
“For someone who didn’t know how [to talk to city officials], it’s pretty amazing to see what he accomplished,” Bigelow added.
Scheuerman said he feels every sport needs funding and generally skateboarding is regarded as a fringe sport that doesn’t need city support. Skateboarding builds confidence, he said, and it’s great for kids who don’t want to do team sports.
“Every park—every tax dollar—is the citizens and I think people forget that, so my philosophy was this is my money,” Scheuerman said. “Tax dollars are our money as well as anyone else’s—just as it is for baseball diamonds or swimming pools. So putting it here means it’s just as legitimate as any other sport.”
Scheuerman, who assisted in the park’s design, said it was an unusual experience for him, after all the problems and hang-ups, to be standing there on the park while Bigelow and Astill introduced the park.
“To actually have it physically here forever, it’s surreal,” Scheuerman said.
Astill has worked for the city for 31 years, 21 as parks and rec director, overseeing the construction of parks and the fitness center. He said days like the park’s grand opening are his paydays.
“It’s a milestone in my career, for sure,” Astill said.
The skate park sits on 2.85 acres and is 31,150 square feet; it took 864 yards of concrete to make. It features a snake run, a doorway, five fun boxes (swimming pool-style holes) with coping on the edges for gliding and stalling and various rails, ledges and jumps.
Jim Noble, 59, has been skating off and on since 1974 before the advent of skate parks when they would skate in ditches and empty pools. He’s seen the highs, lows and transitions of the sport, skating in towns from Herriman to Layton. He said it’s a great addition to the city.
“It’s great for the community because it’s good for the beginners, for the intermediates and advanced skaters,” Noble said. “You can see it’s been a great turnout.”
Before the skate park, skaters had to skate wherever they could.
“We got kicked out of every place we skated,” Scheuerman said. “They’re doing it somewhere so give them somewhere to go.”
Wendy Trujillo and her daughter, Brea, live near the newly opened skate park. Trujillo said before the park opened, Brea could only skate on nearby neighborhood sidewalks.
Vincent entered office in 2002 witnessing the park’s evolution. Vincent had a son growing up who was an in-line skater. He said the park provides a place where skating is promoted and encouraged diverting skaters away from areas they aren’t allowed.
“This is a segment of the population that’s been underserved and it’s going to be long lasting,” Vincent said.