City of Boise eyes future of new skatepark

Posted at 9:40 PM, Feb 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-16 12:45:28-04

Less than a mile from JUMP in downtown Boise is a construction project that crews are working hard on.

Rhodes Park has always been a rough patch of concrete underneath the freeway that local skateboarders and BMX riders saw an opportunity to utilize.

Originally constructed in 1992 by former Ada County Highway Commissioner Glenn Rhodes, the area became a no-brainer for skateboarders and riders who were wanted to ride when it rained or snowed.

However, the ramps and rails at the park slowly fell into disrepair after years of use.

When the City of Boise announced a new park was going to be built with help from the Albertsons Foundation, skeptics attributed the construction as a way to push out the homeless population that had been slowly increasing over the last five years.

However, the Boise Skateboard Association had been raising money in every possible way to rebuild the park from raffles to bake sales to give kids, teens and adults a safe place to recreate away from downtown businesses.

The model of a skate park built underneath of a bridge has been replicated in other northwestern cities such as Portland, Spokane and Eugene.

Eugene had a world class skate park completed underneath a bridge within the last two years that saw some positive changes.

“This was a park that was basically abandoned by the community.  It was too dangerous and icky to be down here, didn't feel safe," City of Eugene Spokeswoman Emily Proudfoot explained.

When the park was finished, the City of Eugene worked hard in making sure the park was a family-friendly area, however, the park hasn’t been without some issues Proudfoot admitted.

“We have ongoing issues with behavior and vandalism that are challenging for us," she explained without specifically identifying if the issues stem from the homeless or skateboarders themselves.

Proudfoot attributes some of the issues they face as a lack of enforcement from the police.

“We have the smallest police department per capita in the nation,” Proudfoot said.

The City of Boise and Parks and Recreation Department is fully aware of how important it is to keep the area safe but also inviting to families who may be worried of criminal elements associated with the park.

The Boise Police Department routinely patrolled Rhodes Park on bicycles before construction and the proximity to a Boise Fire Department station allowed for a prompt response if any issues did occur.

Boise Parks and Recreation plans to fill the perimeter of the park with family-friendly elements that will invite people from around the city instead of keeping it isolated in years past.

"No question it will be an economic driver in the city.  No question. We’ve already heard of one business that's been attracted to the area because of this skate facility going in," Boise Parks and Recreation Director Doug Holloway explained.

Boise Skateboard Association Spokesman Josh Davis believes the park will attract people from not only the northwest but across the country due to the construction from widely acclaimed skate park builders Grindline.

"It's better than we could even imagine. This is a destination park. We're going to get the biggest names in the industry coming here," Davis explained. "You give kids something like this and you give them hope. You give them accomplishment and teach them when you fall down, you get back up.  And those are life lessons they'll take with them forever.  And this park is going to provide that."

The City of Boise hopes to unveil the park by spring or summer of this year.