On Monday night people will get their first glimpse at the plans for the long- awaited skatepark in Hamilton. And they can do that while eating a free slice of pizza.
The Circle 13 Skatepark organization will host the unveiling of the skatepark’s design at Hamilton’s Bedford Building, 223 S. 2nd St., in Hamilton, at 6 p.m., Monday, Sept. 17. Domino’s has agreed to donate the pizza.
Raymond Smith of Stevensville said people are going to be impressed with the structure set to be built at Claudia Driscoll Park this fall.
Smith is a board member with Circle 13. He was one of the driving forces in getting the Bitterroot Valley's first skateparks built in Stevensville and helped with Darby’s effort.
“You guys (in Hamilton) are going to have the best and biggest skatepark in the valley,” Smith said. “It’s definitely going to be a draw for tourists. The design is an awesome fit for the area. It’s going to be concrete art sculpture for the community.”
Circle 13 Skatepark Board President Bryan Dufresne said that while it’s been a long time in coming, Evergreen Skateparks listened to the community and took what it heard in designing a park that will make the community proud.
The company added a street section to its design that will allow skaters to ride rails and jump ledges on elements that mimic what they might find on any town’s sidewalk. Beyond that, Evergreen “did a great job” in creating a deep bowl surrounded by a series of smaller bowls that will be good for skaters of all skill levels.
Dufresne said the arc that includes the street elements will be especially friendly to beginners because it’s somewhat removed from the busier area of the park.
“Kids who have never stepped on a board will have a chance to really learn how to skate there,” he said. “That’s going to be awesome.”
When it’s completed, the skatepark will measure about 12,000 square feet, which is larger than Stevensville’s but smaller than Missoula’s.
Circle 13 is still about $25,000 short of its $300,000 goal, but Dufresne is hopeful that once Evergreen’s crews arrive later this month people will step forward to help push the fundraising effort over the top.
“In talking with a lot of fledgling parks, they tend to get a lot of support during the actual construction phase when people can see that it is actually going to happen,” he said.
People have been talking about building a skatepark in Hamilton for almost 20 years. The latest push has lasted a decade.
“And now people can see that it’s completely real — that park is finally going to be built,” Dufresne said. “We’re hoping the community will step forward one last time and help us meet this goal. I would love to overshoot the $300,000 because that means a bigger and better skatepark.
“I feel like we’re going to get one shot at this,” he said. “Let’s make sure we get it right.”
Smith said Stevensville started building its skatepark with $130,000 in the bank. By the time construction was completed, it had $220,000.
Once it was done, Smith said Pearl Jam’s Jeff Ament told him that Hamilton was next and that he was going to help make that happen.
“How can you say no to that?” Smith said.
Ament donated $100,000 toward the Hamilton project. Bill Watkins, owner of The Living Center in Stevensville and Discovery Care Center in Hamilton, gave $50,000 and the Montana Skatepark Association donated another $45,000 to the effort.
“There are a lot of people who have done a lot of work to make this a reality,” Smith said. “It’s really brought the community together for a great new addition to Hamilton.”
Dufresne said that will be one of the themes at Monday’s unveiling.
“We want to be able to talk to the kids about skatepark etiquette and respect,” he said. “We want to let them know how long it’s taken to get to this point and we can let the city know just how grateful we are to them.”
Dufresne has already seen what having a skatepark has done for Darby.
That community plans to host its second annual Skatejam on Sept. 22. It includes a competition that drew skaters from as far as away as Idaho and the Mission Valley last year. The competition gets underway at 4 p.m., and the freeskate begins at 5:30 p.m.
“I’m sure we’re going to have the same kind of thing happen in Hamilton,” he said. “There probably will be film companies that come in to town because of it. We’ve already seen tourists coming to the Bitterroot to skate.”
“Western Montana has become a hub for skateparks,” Dufresne said. “There are a lot of people who come down from Canada. They can start in Whitefish and hit a different skatepark'' nearly ever hour as they drive south. "Some people are choosing it as a vacation destination just because of that.”
Evergreen hopes to have Hamilton’s skatepark completed by Thanksgiving.
“It is going to have a real doozy of a bowl,” Dufresne said. “It’s going to be amazing watching kids skate that.”