By KEITH COUSINS
COEUR d’ALENE — James Brighter said he grew up at the Coeur d’Alene Skatepark.
The self-described “skate-rat” would spend endless hours at the park after school and on weekends. However, once Brighter and his friends were able to drive to skateparks outside Coeur d’Alene, they noticed their local skatepark lacks many of the features common at parks around the world.
“Currently a lot of people will skip out on skating our local park and travel to Spokane to visit their parks,” Brighter said.
With plans in the works for a new skatepark as part of a host of improvements to the Four Corners area, Brighter and other adrenaline junkies in Coeur d’Alene could see a world-class skatepark come to fruition as soon as spring of 2018. A group of local skaters, including Brighter, have worked to raise funds needed to create designs for the park, and city officials are seeking grant funding to help construct it.
“I can see in our contests and in the city’s skateboard clinic program that the sport in our area is getting bigger,” Brighter said. “We need a bigger, more modern skate park for this increasing need for the youth to ride and bike.”
The design for new skatepark is what Brighter called a “flat top” design and includes obstacles above and below the ground. Other aspects of the new park, he added, involve progression — a term used to describe a sequence of obstacles and features that riders can access on one run through the park.
Open space is an important aspect of a skatepark, Brighter said, because when someone wants to learn to skateboard or BMX at the current park, the cramped layout that creates only two directions of traffic can be intimidating.
“Having a more modern design that allows beginners opportunities to learn how to skate and bike will produce a more enjoyable experience for everyone that uses the park,” Brighter said, adding the open-space design of the new park also lessens the chances of riders bumping into each other.
City officials recently announced they are seeking a $200,000 grant from the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation to help construct the park. The grant, according to Parks Director Bill Greenwood, would fund half of the $400,000 project, with the remainder of the funds coming from the $1.5 million given to the city by its urban renewal agency, ignite cda, for a series of companion projects to a shared-use parking lot being built in the Four Corners area.
“We’ve used these grants to build most of our parks,” Greenwood said, adding they will know in June if they won the grant funding. “The agency feels good about it, they like what we submitted. But you never know until it’s announced.”
If the weather holds up, and grant funding is received, Greenwood said the city could start building the new skatepark as early as September. Other companion projects in the area include additional green space, a plaza, restroom facilities and sport courts.
“It’s going to be an excellent addition to our park system,” Greenwood said.