New Skate Park Efforts Keep Rolling

Hailey Novak

HAVING A WHEEL GOOD TIME. Local skateboarders enjoy the skate plaza at Lakeshore Park, shown above, but they would like to build a bigger facility across town at Boyd Park as early as next year.
HAVING A WHEEL GOOD TIME. Local skateboarders enjoy the skate plaza at Lakeshore Park, shown above, but they would like to build a bigger facility across town at Boyd Park as early as next year.

The effort to bring a new skate park to the Eastside Hill area in Eau Claire hasn’t stopped, but it’s about a lot more than just adding another skate park to the community.

Gabe Brummett, professional “juggler” (he’s a dad, skater, and full-time UPS driver) explains that while Eau Claire is increasingly trying to become a sort of urban oasis that appeals to the younger crowd, the skate scene is being wrongly subtracted from that concept.

“I wish the local folks who have a negative connotation associated with skateboarding would get to know these skaters, because I think they’d soon realize otherwise.” – Malinda Hebert, local mom

“Another skate park is a great way to move the town forward and attract people to the college,” Brummett said. “Kids of all ages are trying to skate in the community, but there’s nowhere for them to do it.”

Because of this, Brummett, parents, skate fanatics, and community members of all kinds are continuing to do whatever they can to bring another skate park (in addition to the small park that’s located at Lakeshore Park currently) to the area so that local skaters have a safe and functional place to practice their pastime.

Local mom Malinda Hebert explained that she supervised her son (an avid skater) as he went around town asking local business for prize donations for the raffle they held at their skate completion last year.

“People yell at my son and his friends out of car windows or apartment buildings for skating on the sidewalk,” Hebert said. “They’re not delinquents, they’re just trying to skate.”

Brummett tells me that everywhere he goes he gets a parent or community member asking about the progress of the new potential park, which shows it’s not just going to benefit a couple of kids but the whole community.

Currently Brummett and the ECSA (Eau Claire Skaters Association) are looking to the Tony Hawk Foundation in an attempt to snag another big donation (like the one they got a few years ago for Lakeshore) for the skate park they’re hoping to build in Boyd Park. The park is in the Eastside Hill neighborhood, so Brummett and other skate advocates in the community are excited by the prospects of having a skate park that will finally be out in the open, so skaters can do what they love without being forced to practice in a secluded area.

“Lakeshore was nothing before we added the skate park, and now it’s a happening area,” Brummett told me. “We want the same thing for Boyd Park. It could get more people on the bike trail and create a more popular community space, not a place for punks who want to cause trouble.”

Hebert explained to me that she frequently goes to watch her son skate at the local park and has noticed that all the skaters – no matter their gender, socioeconomic status, or background – are there to cheer on one another and offer support.

“I wish the local folks who have a negative connotation associated with skateboarding would get to know these skaters, because I think they’d soon realize otherwise,” Hebert said.

In addition to the openness of the park, it’s also accessible by city bus and is connected by a bike path to Lakeshore Park. This means skaters could travel between the parks safely, avoid busy streets, and enjoy a skate facility with much more room than before.

Brummett also mentions that by having the park out in the open, it helps bust misconceptions that all skaters create graffiti, cause trouble, and are up to no good at the parks. He says the skaters don’t chose to practice secretively, and they’re the ones who usually clean up any vandalism to the park.

“We take care of our park and respect it,” he said. “It’s easy to see how much we care about it.”

The original plan was to have the park done by next spring, but a more realistic goal is the following fall.

As of right now, the ESCA is planning to look at larger corporations around the area for donations so that the Eastside Hill area skate park can become a reality for the community sooner rather than later.

“Kids are going to skate no matter what,” Brummett said. “So either we give them a place to do it or spend all this time and energy chasing them off properties and having the police after them.”

Learn more at facebook.com/EauClaireSkateboarders.