With the grand opening of Hamilton’s Circle 13 Skatepark just days away, organizers are hoping for one last push by volunteers to put on the finishing touch to a project that’s already providing a great deal of joy to both young and old in the community.
The city of Hamilton temporarily closed the skatepark this week due to safety concerns after several skateboarders were thrown from their boards after hitting rocks carried onto the concrete from dirt surrounding the park.
“The park was getting really dirty,” said Catherine Coulon of Evergreen Skateparks. “They had put down the top oil and got it graded, but it never was seeded. Kids ride their bikes through the dirt and end up spreading dirt and debris.
“If you’re skateboarding, the tiniest pebble can make you fly off our board,” Coulon said. “It happened to me. … At that point, I decided we needed to get this project finished. There are people coming from all over the country to check it out this summer. It needed to be done.”
Hamilton’s skatepark was the third constructed in the Bitterroot by Billy and Catherine Coulon’s Evergreen Skateparks. A good portion of the funding came from Pearl Jam’s Jeff Ament, who plans to make an appearance at Saturday’s grand opening event.
“I decided I was just going to figure it out,” Coulon said. “My husband and I are problem solvers. We decided we would pay for the sod and hopefully get reimbursed. … Me and my friend, Ray (Smith) spearheaded getting the sod here.”
Farmers State Bank and Hamilton's Branch of Investment Center of America picked up the tab for the sod.
On Friday, they hope that everyone who has a connection to the skatepark will turn out to help lay down an estimated 15,000 square feet of sod.
Circle 13 president Bryan Dufresne said the sod-laying party will get underway at 9 a.m. Friday. A second truckload is expected to arrive at noon.
“We are hoping to get as many people as possible to turn out and help,” Dufresne said.
Trapper Creek Job Corps director Jesse Casterson said the center plans to send 32 students and a couple on instructors Friday to help get the sod placed.
Circle 13 board member Kelly Hanley reached out to Trapper Creek as soon as she heard about the challenge they faced.
"I volunteer in the schools and have been to several events where they've been," Hanley said. "They are great kids and they always come through. They were the first ones I thought of when I knew we were in a bind and needed volunteers on short notice."
Despite having to change days and times twice, "Jesse (Casterson) was more than willing to rally the troops and get us some help. We were overwhelmed when he let us know that he could put it together so quickly.
"They are a huge asset to our community," Hanley said.
“Once the sod is down, we will be good for the grand opening on Saturday,” Dufresne said.
The grand opening event on July 6 is set to run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. It will feature prizes, raffles, a skate contest, a food truck and ice cream sales. Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital officials will also be on hand to give away helmets and talk about the importance of wearing them.