City officials have earmarked $25,000 this year to begin work on expanding Aspen’s skatepark.
Stephen Ellsperman, director of the city’s parks and open space, said design work and public scoping of a new “street skating” addition to Rio Grande Park are set to take place this summer.
The money was set aside at the suggestion of Aspen City Councilman Torre when the 2013 budget was adopted last year.
“I requested of council to allow parks to investigate phase two of the skatepark,” he said, adding there’s a growing need for streetscape features and the park itself has become so popular that it’s reached maximum capacity on some days. “I’ve just seen how widely popular it is.”
Features would include a discipline of the sport that takes advantage of common urban obstacles like rails and benches. Rails, boxes and other elements could be put where the basketball court is located, which would connect to the current skatepark, Ellsperman said. Removing the basketball court located on the north side of the park will be discussed publicly before any decisions are made. But Ellsperman said park managers have seen more basketball in play at the Yellow Brick court than Rio Grande in recent years.
“Quite honestly, we’ve seen basketball use at Rio Grande plummet,” he said.
Torre said the street skate elements could be removable to allow for the basketball court to remain, or to be cut in half.
The skatepark was built 11 years ago with a $325,000 price tag. At a minimum, capital repairs need to be made, Ellsperman said.
Once the scoping opportunities are determined, a preliminary design will be created and city officials will present them to the public. It will be up to council to move forward with an expansion and hire a skateboard park design expert to assist city staff.
Expanding the park has been on the city’s radar since at least 2007 when parks staff told council that it was over capacity.