BY RYAN WELLICOME
Construction is underway on a concrete all-wheel skateboard park in Blackfalds, scheduled to be finished by the end of October.
After three years of fundraising, the Optimist Club of Blackfalds is finally beginning to see the fruits of its labour.
“We’ve had several fundraisers over the past three years that have helped make it successful and we have had great support from the town with funding,” said Kevin Harris, chair of the Optimist Club’s skatepark committee.
“It’s awesome. All the kids are pretty excited.”
The project was spearheaded by Harris and fellow committee member John McCrimmon and the park has been a long-awaited payoff.
“The Optimist Club is truly the driving force behind the skateboard park. We really appreciate that because when a community group backs something like this then the whole community takes ownership of it,” said Blackfalds Mayor Melodie Stol.
“That is where you get the most success.”
The park has an estimated price tag of $498,000 with just over half of the funds raised by the Optimist Club through fundraising and grants while the bulk of the remaining funds were provided by the Town of Blackfalds.
The Town made a monetary contribution to the tune of $200,000 along with an in-kind contribution of labour from Town staff.
Lacombe County also made an in-kind contribution – worth approximately $28,000 – of gravel and services for the park.
The Optimist Club’s contribution of $260,000 was born of various fundraisers held over the last three years and a $125,000 grant from the Alberta government’s Community Facility Enhancement Program (CFEP). The Club held fundraisers in the form of cabarets, galas and raffles including their current ‘Escape with Cash!’ raffle. Tickets are $20 with first draw winning a 2016 Ford Escape – which includes a chrome package and remote start – and second draw winning $5000 cash. The draw takes place at Lacombe Ford on Oct. 1st. The Club has limited tickets that can be purchased by calling or texting 403-877-8521 or from any Blackfalds Optimist Club member. All proceeds from the raffle will go towards the skateboard park costs.
Need for a new park was addressed by the Optimist Club because of the sub-par state of the Town’s current facility.
“(The current skateboard park) is getting worn out and not only that, it’s a smaller one by the arena and they need the area for parking,” said Harris.
The current skateboard park consists of constructed wooden ramps. The ramps were originally built for use for skateboards but in the years since its construction it’s frequented by not only skateboarders but also by other extreme sport vehicles such as scooters and BMX bikes.
“That heavier equipment really abused the welds on the constructed ramps,” said Stol.
“This new park is called an all-wheels park; lots of concrete in it. It can actually then accommodate the wider variety of devices or wheeled vehicles and a broader group of kids can use it easily.”
Ground has been broken and construction has begun at its site behind the Abbey Centre.