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Committee forming to expand skatepark

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POLSON – Armed with positive words and a “we can do this” attitude, a young group of skateboarders is coming together with a mission to expand the Polson Skatepark — not for themselves, but for the next generation of kids aiming to learn the sport. 

Built in 2006 by Dreamland Skateparks, Polson’s Skatepark has incurred thousands of miles under the wheels of skateboards, bikes and scooters. Kids from all over western Montana come to ollie, kickflip and ride the bowls. It provides the perfect balance of advanced and “awesome” when it comes to daring athletes testing their skills.

That’s where the problem lies with some of the older skaters. They not only want to be able to continue to share the park in harmony, they would like to attract younger generations to mentor into their sport. According to Polson’s more advanced skaters, Polson’s park is geared more toward the experienced athletes with not much room for young or beginner skaters.

Heading up the project is Polson resident Jesse Vargas. Vargas has seen first-hand the impact of a positive influence when it comes to nurturing young talent through the disagreeable stigma that seems to follow skateboarding.

“I think the expansion is important for our community because it provides a place for kids to go and have a friendly environment where they can practice skateboarding or BMX or whatever it is that they are interested in, in a safe environment,” Vargas said. “We would like to see these kids have a place to go to keep them out of trouble; (a place that) keeps them busy, keeps them active and healthy, and gives them a sense of community … with their friends without the pressures of being on a team sport.”

Vargas has been on a skateboard since he was a child and said he is excited to have the opportunity to give back to something that has been so influential throughout his life.

Polson Skatepark is set apart from other parks not just for it’s unique physical features such as “the helmet” — an extended bowl in the shape of a skateboard helmet — but also because skateboarders, bikers and all other wheeled sports share their space in harmony. The athletes of Polson’s park have learned to work together to not only share but also take pride in their domain. With the exception of a few rogue incidents, athletes using the Polson Skatepark keep litter picked up and even encourage recycling in the bins placed out for them. 

The new part of the park would give younger and less experienced athletes a space to hone their skills with new features geared toward learning.

“It will be awesome for the younger kids because it will provide obstacles that aren’t there now and give kids more of a linear learning curve,” Vargas said. “They won’t have to hop around from a small obstacle to a big obstacle potentially hurting themselves.”

The expansion will give everybody the opportunity to start small and then work their way up by giving them in-between features, according to Vargas. 

“Not all parks cover all the bases when it comes to features; they’ll have a few features that are nice, but you have to go to other parks to keep progressing up that ladder,” Vargas said. “The park we want to have here will have all of that.”

The expansion committee is trying to raise funds to expand the park southward toward the parking lot.

The project will require raising more than $200,000, but that doesn’t deter this young team of athletes from trying.

Working with Dreamland and with the help of Polson’s Park Director Karen Sargeant, the plan has been set in motion and donation cups are set up  in businesses around the valley. The kids know it will take a lot of hard work and determination from the young athletes themselves. They are hoping to find bigger sponsors willing to help them lay the initial foundation and are looking into many other possible fundraising ideas.

For more information, send an email to polsonskatepark@gmail.com. Information can also be found on any of their many bright green cups set up around the valley’s counters or check-out lines. Polson Skatepark also has a Facebook page.

“Support it, it’s a great thing,” Vargas said. “We’re trying to do it the best way we possibly can so that all ages and skill levels can have a place where they can ride in a safe environment — where they can stay off the streets and stay out of trouble and enjoy a positive environment with friends.” 

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