Group makes push for new skatepark in Columbia Falls
Hungry Horse News | May 27, 2023 12:00 AM
The Bad Rock Skate Park Association hopes to soon do a formal land survey at Fenholt Park in Columbia Falls for a new skatepark after the city concurred with the idea.
The nonprofit, created in 2021, is coming into the project with $400,000 raised for a new park in Columbia Falls, the association said in a release last week.
The group would finance construction of the park and then the city would take ownership when complete.
The full Columbia Falls City Council considered the park at a May 1 meeting. While Mayor Don Barnhart expressed reservations, council members Darin Fisher and Jenny Lovering expressed support.
The natural contours at Fenholt could serve a skateboard park. It will not impede the outfield of the nearby baseball park or impact the sledding hill.
Formed in 2021, the Badrock Skatepark Association nonprofit came together to address the need for a skatepark in Columbia Falls. Matt Holloway, president of the association and a resident of Columbia Falls, said that every time he has driven to Whitefish to skate for the past 17 years, he knew that there were kids in Columbia Falls who weren’t able to skate.
“We need a skatepark that is accessible by foot, board or bike, and this potential location is perfect,” Halloway said.
The footprint of the skateboard park would be about a quarter acre, but would be further refined after a land survey.
“With a potential location, we are now able to involve the community in design, meaning we want the kids of Columbia Falls to help us design this park,” said Rebecca Powell, treasurer of the association and mom of a young skateboarder. “This summer, we will be hosting several fun events to spread awareness and get the kids’ ideas on paper. Most importantly, this is ‘their’ park.”
Dreamland Skateparks, whose co-owner is Danyel Scott, a Whitefish native, has been asked to do the construction.
If all goes well, they hope to break ground by next summer, Halloway said.
“It’s a dream to be building in such an amazing community,” said Scott. “A place close to my home and heart. But more importantly, this is about Columbia Falls getting their dream park, too.”
For over 20 years, Dreamland has built skateparks around the world, and they recently returned from building a new park in Israel. Dreamland built both the Kalispell and Whitefish skateparks, both of which are still in almost-new condition. Kalispell was built in 2004 and Whitefish in 2005, and every year, the Whitefish Skatepark is visited by professional skateboarders and featured in magazines and videos.
The Badrock Skatepark Association believes Columbia Falls will be equally fun and inviting.
Halloway, who has been skateboarding since he was 11, said the idea of a skateboard park in Columbia Falls is to blend design elements of an expert park and elements of a more novice facility.
“The one thing I’m not going to do is build something we already have (in the valley),” Halloway said.
The skateboard folks may have some convincing to do with Mayor Barnhart.
He brought up two concerns at the May 1 meeting.
“It sure seems like a lot of what we hear about at the Kalispell Park are problems … and is this something we build it and in 10 years no one is going to want to use it?”
But councilwoman Jenny Lovering, who is also a teacher at the high school, said she knew a lot of students who skateboard, and “would love to skateboard in a place where they could walk to it.”
She also noted that Kalispell’s is away from homes, and this one would be near homes.
“I feel like that helps,” she said.
She said her son is a skateboarder and his friends.
“They all skate,” she said. “It’s better than the parking lots and rails in towns.”
Fisher also said he’s heard positive feedback from other communities, who haven’t had problems like Kalispell.
At the May 15 meeting, Fisher further indicated he would get feedback from other communities on their parks and present it to council at its next meeting.
The organization plans on continued fundraising, as well as community outreach events this summer. Folks can follow their Instagram page, @columbiafallsskatepark, for the most up-to-date information about events. People can donate directly at Parkside Credit Union or at skatecfalls.com.