A Vert to Volunteer Ratio
New Half-pipe Equals Whole Community Growth
By P.M. Fadden
Valley skate sessions receive an aerial boost as Girdwood Skate Park welcomes new, standout vert-element.
The addition, a half-pipe boasting over eight foot vert. dimension, dwarfs existing Skate Park fixtures and is believed by builders to be the largest feature of its kind in Alaska.
“All skater, young or old, are going to progress.”
– Project Lead Builder, Clint Kyffin
“I’ve skated all the parks I could find, and haven’t seen anything like this ramp,” said 10-year Girdwoodian and half pipe project lead builder, Clint Kyffin. “It’s the largest ramp in AK, as far as I’ve seen.”
A Girdwood amenity for two decades, Skate Park remains a volunteer driven, ever-developing labor of volunteer love overseen by steward group, Friends of Girdwood Skate Park.
Comprised of supportive residents as well as athletes, the dozen active members of Friends of Girdwood Skate Park are supported by countless additional participants, all of whom take leading roles in fundraising, park upkeep and its improvements.
“Really, I’d only lightly attended Friends meetings,” Kyffin said. “But it was there where talks about expanding to an eight-foot half-pipe began.”
“There’s only a handful of Friends members,” said Chairperson of the Friends of Girdwood Skate Park Group, Amy Beaudoin, “but we work hard to make our goals happen!”
Beaudoin reports a busy 2017 for Friends. The organization has rebuilt three ramps as well as welcomed the new up-sized pipe feature.
“This is very similar to previous Skate Park mini-ramp work,” Kyffin said. “Considering that 5 years ago the overall cost of a complete metal skate park was just under $500,000, such metal features certainly seem more expensive.”
“Using volunteer labor, this project had a completion cost only a tenth-to-fifteenth that of metal ramp pricing. It was a very feasible option.”
“By comparison,” he said, “a metal feature like we’ve built could cost $80-$100,000, so this project is cost effective and a good addition.”
“Kyle Kelley and Margaret Tyler with the Girdwood Parks and Recreation have put an incredible amount of time and effort into making all of our projects happen,” Beaudoin added. “We are fortunate to have received an Anchorage Parks Foundation Challenge Grant that helped fund our half pipe project, and we have also received financial support from Alyeska Resort as wells many community members.”
Craftsman and skate supporter, John Quesenberry is said to have been instrumental in project construction.
“He took the helm,” Kyffin said. “He wrote the grant as well as worked all math and ordered materials.”
“John, along with others like Kyle Kelley, Kyle Bates and rotating numbers of volunteers were all hugely helpful in making the project a reality,” he said. “Pre-emptive work was performed as materials came in. I, myself, put in maybe fifty to sixty labor hours.”
“John has an incredible skill at design and creating plans,” Beaudoin added. “His efforts really put these projects into reality.”
Accessed overland through Forest Fair Park or via its Egloff Drive turnout, the new half-pipe in its Girdwood Skate Park home neighbors both fire and radio station locations while rising into plain sight of Alyeska Highway, creating for visitors a picturesque primer to the community’s artful, adventure sport lifestyle.
“Girdwood Skate Park is a great entity for children to recreate and is very well received in the community,” Kyffin said.
“Also it improves the community in general. Progression in local skating will happen because of the new ramp and all skaters, young or old, are going to progress.”
“We have come a long way since I was a teen in the park,” Beaudoin said. “I love seeing young kids having high quality ramps to learn on. Skateboarding provides an activity that teens, especially, are interested in. It’s a positive, fun, healthy outside sport that’s great for fitness and the mind. It also improves coordination, balance, concentration, and aerobic endurance.”
“A: skate parks get a lot of use,” Kyffin said. “B: parks do guide people away from negative choices. Skating kept me out of trouble, and now, to build skate-able things for kids in an area where they can congregate is a way to give back.”
“Skate Park provides a fun, safe, and legal place to skateboard in the community,” Beaudoin said. “We have had a skate park in our community for over 20 years, and our goal is to continue to support, maintain, and improve that park for this and next generations.”
“Continued growth and strength will come directly from community support,” Kyffin agreed.
“It’s the future of skating here,” he said. “After that, we just need to make sure everyone uses knee pads and helmet.”