Girdwood Skate Park: Out with the old, in with the new

Over the summer, Girdwood Skate Park has undergone many renovations to make the park a better place to skate, bike, scooter and rollerblade. There are now three new vert ramps and a resized rail for beginner riders.

The biggest project to happen this summer was rebuilding the halfpipe, which is 8 feet tall and 24 feet wide. With the help of the local community through volunteer work, fundraisers, grants and donations, this project was able to come to life.

Kids in Girdwood enjoying the finished product Photo credit: Brenda Craig

The Friends of the Girdwood Skate Park Committee is a group of skateboarders and non-skateboarders that meet in Girdwood once a month to talk about the budget and new ideas for the skate park. This project was proposed a year ago after the committee made a priority list of projects that were most needed.

They were awarded a Challenge Grant from the Anchorage Park Foundation in April.

“We, with support from Rasmuson Foundation, awarded Friends of the Girdwood Skate Park a $5,000 Challenge Grant this spring,” Laura Vachula, communications manager at the Anchorage Park Foundation, said. “Challenge Grants encourage community stewardship and partnership to make positive changes in Anchorage’s parks and trails. Recipients of the grant must match the funds with private donations, in-kind services or volunteer hours.”

Since Amy Beaudoin, adjunct professor at UAA and chair of the Friends of the Girdwood Skate Park Committee, was a teenager, she dreamt of building a halfpipe in Girdwood. Beaudoin was responsible for applying for the grant to rebuild the halfpipe.

“It was great having a big dream project to work on together from start to finish. This is something that the skate community can grow with, being the only halfpipe around,” Beaudoin said.

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The new halfpipe cost $12,500 in materials and the labor was done by volunteers.

“We received individual donations from Girdwood and Anchorage residents, Alyeska Resort, Municipal park funds and the Anchorage Park Foundation grant,” Beaudoin said. “Blue and Gold Boardshop sponsored a fundraising event last fall at the [skate] park and at Alyeska last winter.

The previous halfpipe was around 20 years old, and with age and weathering it became hazardous and unsafe to ride.

“It would have a bunch of nails sticking out and pieces of the boards were coming undone and were so warped and chipped that they became a death trap for catching your wheels on,” Forrest Beaudoin-Mize, natural science major and skateboarder, said. “The top deck was rotting so you could possibly break a hole on the top decking.”

With no hope of renovations, skateboarders would take matters into their own hands and attempt to fix the halfpipe themselves.

“People would try and go screw the boards back in the frame of the pipe. It was so wet and rotten from years of just sitting in water and being buried in snow every winter that screws wouldn’t stay in; you could just pull them out,” Beaudoin-Mize said.

Before the new halfpipe was built, some were scared to ride the pipe. Building the new halfpipe has made a safe and exciting addition to the park.

“I’m pretty stoked to have a new halfpipe in the skate park. The halfpipe is eight [feet] tall so it’s a good foot and half taller than the old one, which is cool,” Beaudoin-Mize said. “It’s also built a lot better than the older one, I never really skated the old one just because It was so sketchy, but now I’m stoked to try and skate the new big pipe.”

After conquering the halfpipe project, there are now discussions of future projects for the skate park.

“We would like to rebuild another vert ramp to fit better and possibly add a corner ramp that matches up nicely to the pipe,” Beaudoin said. “There has also been a lot of talk of putting a roof on the mini ramp so that we can use it when the weather isn’t cooperating. We welcome all suggestions and ideas for improvements.”

Until it starts snowing, the Girdwood Parks and Recreation Crew will be leaf blowing and sweeping the skate park so riders can enjoy the park as long as they can before winter hits.