David Van Etten prepares to ride down the halfpipe at Ross Park Skatepark
POCATELLO — An entity in Pocatello wants to replace the city’s skate park.
The Pocatello Skate Park is more than 20 years old and parts of it have become degraded and rundown. David Van Etten, founder of the Southeast Idaho Skatepark Association, said it’s becoming dangerous for skaters and it’s time to get a new one.
It’s something he’s heard people talk about since he and his family moved to Pocatello in 2015. He decided to do something about it and started the nonprofit specifically for that purpose.
Van Etten points out several issues with the skatepark, including gaps in the panelling of the ramps and a hole in the half pipe. Some skaters have tried fixing it themselves with pieces of wood and tape.
The gaps could cause a crash, depending on how a skateboarder lands on it, he says.
Van Etten isn’t the only one who feels that way. Darin Black, known in the community as D’Beau, owns a skateboard shop in town. Building a new skatepark is something he’s discussed with city officials for the last 10 years.
He says the “dilapidated and aged” park has outlived its lifespan.
“It doesn’t help our youth to go ‘I want to skateboard’ and then go out to the roughest skate park,” D’Beau said.
The Skatepark Association recently put out a form letter on its Facebook page, asking people to sign it and send it to the city of Pocatello.
“People can cut and paste that letter and let the city know that (a new park is) something they want,” Van Etten said. “We need advocacy. The city needs to know the need for a park.”
As of Aug. 7, Parks and Rec. Director Anne Butler says they’ve received about 10 letters. She’s open to the idea of replacing it, but says it comes down to priorities and budget.
The city recently approved the construction of a $500,000 pickleball court. D’Beau and Van Etten are frustrated by this news because they say the city told them there wasn’t enough money for a large-scale project, and they’ve been pushing for a new skatepark for a long time.
“So (it sounds like) there was money, and in my opinion, (it) should have gone towards the youth (and the skatepark),” Van Etten said.
Butler explains the pickleball courts are just one of many projects the city is currently working on. Other projects include repaving cemetery roads and doing repairs to Brooklyn’s Playground.
“There’s a variety of different things that we need to repair and all of them have value to the patrons of our community,” Butler said. “We’re prioritizing the ones that we know we can get done right now, but that doesn’t mean that there’s not other valid projects in the future.”
She doesn’t know when a new skatepark could be built, but she hopes it will happen in the near future.
“The council is definitely looking at opportunities to build a new skate park and improve some of our other amenities,” Butler said.
Van Etten reiterates the demand for a new skatepark, and says the association is always looking for volunteers to help create awareness and interest in the project.
“It’s been a ton of work to get where we’re at and the work is not done until there’s a new modern skate park,” Van Etten said.
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