Long sought Hamilton Skate Park one step closer to reality

Posted at 9:05 AM, Sep 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-28 11:05:03-04

HAMILTON – A dream at least 20 years in the making became a reality on Thursday as construction finally began on the new Hamilton skatepark.

Although there’s still money to be raised, skaters should be enjoying the new Circle 13 Skatepark before the end of the year.

After years of fundraising and planning, Hamilton will finally get a new skatepark. Ground was officially broke today for the new “Circle 13 Skatepark”, culminating those years of collaboration and fundraising…

“A lot of people have been involved in this and have ebbed and flowed throughout. But a few…of us have stayed. But really, people dedicated a bunch of time. And those that were on the board — that aren’t on the board — always still contributed,” said Thaddeous Whidmer of Circle 13 Skatepark.

The new park is slated to be the “biggest in the Bitterroot”. It’ll be over 13,000 square feet, just under twice as large as the park constructed in Stevensville a few years ago.

As with that skatepark and others in Western Montana, the objective is to provide a healthy place for kids of all ages — along with other features at Claudia Driscoll Park.

“They may not be in the traditional parks. But darn it, they have as much right to go someplace and have fun. And these parks become their anchors. And we just couldn’t be happier to be a part of this,” said Bill Watkins of the Discovery Care Center.

“This is something that they can play on. And the little kids can be over there, and the little kids can also be here too,” Whidmer told MTN News.

“It’s just a true community endeavor and I think it’s going to get the kids off the streets and into here. And just in a secure environment and a secure location,” he added.

It was voters’ approval of a bond last year acquiring the park and the new police and courts building that provided a critical piece of the project.

“It was a huge deal because it lowers their cost. The bathrooms are already here. The parking was already here and it was already under the maintenance of the city and so will the park be,” Watkins said.

One thing about skatepark construction is it happens fairly fast and the facility should be open later on this fall. In the meantime, fundraising efforts will continue.’

“We’re about $18,000 short of our $300,000 goal to make it the biggest and best park here in the Bitterroot Valley — here in Hamilton. So any donation would be greatly appreciated,” said Circle 13 Skatepark’s Raymond Smith.

In addition to local donors, Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament is another big contributor to the Hamilton Park, with his Montana Skatepark Foundation donating $100,000 to the project.