All it took was a tarnished reputation and a rumor for Cassie Ubaldo’s freshman strategies class to start taking action. The class has been collaborating with Bozeman Parks and Recreation on a plan they named “Project Skatepark.”
The group’s main goal was to make the park look more presentable and inviting to the community as well as increase police patrol around the park to improve safety.
“There’s been like a lot of drugs and alcohol going around and we wanted to make it a better place for families to go” says Isiah Rockne, a student in the class.
Ultimately the project became very personal for most of the kids.
“First it started off like a rumor saying that they were going to shut it down and almost everyone in our class skated or went to the skate park, so it’s like a second home for us,” add Luis Morales.
“We were sitting in a group and we were just talking about what we could do and we came up with this big idea and we all collaborated and got our ideas in a bunch.” explains Karston Harding.
Edgar Rodriguez, Joe Lopez and Morales went and talked to Bozeman Youth Initiative representative Greg Owen and told him how they wanted to save the skatepark from its dark reputation and possible foreclosure.
A big focus for the class is making sure the skatepark is being viewed as a family-friendly place and “clear the dark sky that hangs over the skatepark,” said Morales.
Student Journey McKay said that they wanted to make the park accessible for everyone.
“We wanted to make it seem like everyone could go there, from little kids to adults to senior citizens,” McKay said.
Lopez said that when the cops make an arrest at the skate park, it just brings “negative vibes” on the area and worsens its reputation. The group hopes that illegal activity will go down with increased patrolling.
Harding says that while the group is making the park a safer and better place they are also getting some backlash from others.
“They feel if there is more police patrol there they won’t be able to drink and smoke as much there. They don’t like the police being there at all, we presented to the Bozeman police department and they threw a big hissy fit.” says Shay Cash.
“The police were actually pretty surprised, they were like: ‘Teenagers put this on? Freshman strategies?’” says Mckay, adding that overall they were “Really excited about it.”
Part of the problem, says McKay, is the mindset the kids have thinking it’s just their place, not everyone else’s.
“They think it’s the only place they can go to do bad stuff,” says Lopez.
Many of the people who felt this way argued that it was already a family friendly place, but Rodriguez and his classmates could see that little kids for instance feared the skatepark, and adults were reluctant to send their kids there.
Since starting, the group has seen kids going out and using the park more often. Project Skatepark is a long-term project, and the group will spend the rest of the year not only keeping up the skatepark itself but also the surrounding area of Kirk Park. Ubaldo and the group are planning a skateboarding competition for the spring.
“We care about it and are trying to make it a better place.” says Rockne with hopeful smile.