By Travis Gulbrandson
It was perfect skating weather Tuesday for the official dedication ceremony of Vermillion’s Barstow Skate Park, as evidenced by the number of youths making use of the facility that afternoon.
“This is definitely something that will be a great benefit to the community over the next – I don’t know how many years,” said recreation specialist Ryan Baedke. “Hopefully we will be able to continue to add to it and improve it.”
The park is 160 feet by 90 feet and is a dual-purpose facility.
“As you all know, this will also turn into an ice rink when weather permits in the wintertime so we will get a dual year-long usage out of it, which is a really nice feature for the City of Vermillion,” said parks and rec director Jim Goblirsch.
“It was a learning process the first time we were out here trying to figure out how to make ice that would last,” Baedke added. “I think we have a game plan now coming into this fall.”
In addition to the ice-skating capabilities, the park also has lights for night skating, and grass is being planted and cement laid around the buildings.
The ramps were designed and installed by American Ramp Company of Joplin, MO.
“It’s the largest skateboard ramp manufacturer in the world,” Baedke said. “They build parks all over the world. The group we had here building ours had just come from Mexico, and they were headed to Moscow the following week.
“All that stuff is specially-designed to last quite some time,” Baedke said.
The project officially began three years ago when the City of Vermillion became a part of the Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield Three-Point Play Program.
Wellmark partnered with the University of South Dakota in order to raise funds to assist in the construction – $200 for each field goal scored by the USD football team and $25 for each three-point basket scored by the Coyote basketball teams over the past three years.
“Over those three years, we were able to get (more than) $40,000 to afford our skate park,” Baedke said. “That’s fantastic. It’s a large amount of money, and this project wouldn’t have been possible without that program.”
Wellmark marketing communications consultant Stephanie Perry said her company was glad to help.
“It was quite exciting to actually see the project come to fruition,” she said. “It was great to see that with just a little bit of money that we were able to provide, that we were able to provide something that, obviously, people here are enjoying.”
Baedke thanked everyone who was involved in helping to complete the project, including Perry; Ted Schaffer, for constructing and carving the Barstow Skate Park sign; Travis Lee and the staff of USD Marketing; the City of Vermillion Street Department for installing new sidewalks; the City of Vermillion Engineering Department for assisting with park design; the City of Vermillion Light and Power Department for installing new lights; the USD football and basketball teams; former parks and rec director Dave Nelson; and MidAmerican Energy for their monetary donation.
Goblirsch echoed these sentiments, stating, “Most of these types of projects come with a vision, where someone brought it to our attention, be it a city council member, be it the city manager or even someone from the rec staff saying, ‘Hey, you know what? We would like something like this.’ It doesn’t happen overnight. There are a lot of people who took time and effort and (made) contributions.”
The Barstow Skate Park is located near the intersection of Carr and Dartmouth streets.