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The City Journals

Mayor, city council members tour skateboard park that has enjoyed better days

Aug 11, 2021 12:27PM ● By Carl Fauver

The six-member Hasebroock family met with three city council members and Mayor Kristie Overson at the Taylorsville skateboard park earlier this summer, to discuss safety hazards at the popular site. (Mike Hasebroock)

By Carl Fauver | [email protected] 

Among the 621 athletes representing Team USA in Tokyo right now, a dozen—six men and six women—are competing in the brand-new Olympic sport of skateboarding. They’re participating in one of four new sports in this year’s pandemic-delayed games. The other three are karate, sport climbing and surfing. Baseball and softball are also making a return to the games, following a lengthy hiatus.

It seems likely, somewhere in our state of Utah, a young boy or girl is fostering dreams of becoming an Olympic skateboarder someday. What does not seem likely, is that their first choice for a place to practice and train is the skateboard park inside Taylorsville Park (4760 South Redwood Road). 

“It’s certainly not the best (skateboard park) layout—and it needs lot of repairs—but my kids like to come here, so that’s why I became involved,” said Taylorsville resident Mike Hasebroock. “I am excited by how much support the mayor and city council members are expressing for the park and the improvements it needs.”

Mike and his wife are parents to Ian, 13; Julianna, 11; Grant, 9; and Pierce, 4. All six of them recently appeared before the city council to discuss skateboard park safety issues. Whether it was flawless strategy, or “blind luck,” the Hasebroocks made their impassioned pitch on the very night council members were finalizing their 2021–22 fiscal year budget. One quick motion and vote later, $25,000 was allocated for the improvements.

Following that council meeting, the Hasebroocks next convinced elected officials to join them for a tour of the skateboard park, so they could see the issues for themselves. Attending the show-and-tell were Taylorsville City Council members Anna Barbieri, Ernest Burgess and Meredith Harker, along with Mayor Kristie Overson.

“I was there along with the council members for about 30 to 45 minutes, and it was a nice morning,” Overson said. “[The Hasebroocks) wanted to show us the areas that need work. It was informative. But I’m not sure what happens next. There are lots of questions regarding costs. We are getting preliminary numbers now.”

The old saying “lipstick on a pig” comes to mind.

Certainly, even with extremely high concrete costs these days, the $25,000 skateboard park allocation could fund a lot of patchwork repairs, making the site measurably safer. But all of the parties agree, the Taylorsville amenity would remain a second- or third-rate park, and certainly not a significant draw for visitors into the community.

This reality was made even more abundantly clear five years ago, when neighboring West Valley City opened the largest skate park in Utah. The 31,000-square-foot park near the West Valley Family Fitness Center (5600 West 3100 South) opened in October 2016 and draws large crowds daily.

Taylorsville City Council Chairman Curt Cochran was not able to attend the June 21 tour of the Taylorsville skateboard park. But because the park is in his council district, he has seen and discussed it many times.

“There are opportunities there, and I know the $25,000 can help make improvements,” he said. “That should take care of obvious problems and make it safer. But for the long term, we aren’t sure what the solution is. Spend more money on the existing park? Tear it out and build a new one there? Find a new location? These are all things we still need to discuss.”

There is one safe fact, according to publicskateparkguide.org: new skateparks don’t come cheap.

“The average price to design and build a skatepark is $45 per square foot,” the website reports. “Skateparks rarely are more than $60 per square foot and can sometimes be as low as $25 per square foot. At the average cost of $45 per square foot, an 8,000-square-foot neighborhood skatepark will be $360,000 and will serve a neighborhood of about 25,000 residents. A 16,000-square-foot regional skatepark will be $720,000 and will service the immediate neighborhood and attract patrons from the region.”

Given those large numbers—and the city’s expressed commitment to someday also build additional pickleball courts—it appears unlikely council members will approve sweeping changes to their skateboard park anytime soon. Mike Hasebroock said he and his kids understand that reality.

“We appreciate [the mayor and council’s] commitment to making the skateboard park a little more safe,” he said. “But we know, big changes, big improvements are expensive.”