Stettler’s new skatepark received a formal grand opening on Wednesday, Oct. 21 as County Reeve Wayne Nixon cut the ribbon to mark the occasion along with mayor Dick Richards and town councillor Will Brown.
Also present at the occasion were Stettler Skatepark Association board members Mike Lawlor, Heidi Fraser, Cathy Dadensky, Karen Hataley and other past and present board members.
“We held the official grand opening now because we have the lights being installed at the park, and the donor plaques are finished and installed,” said Mike Lawlor, board member of Skatepark Association. “It was really all about taking the time to recognize the people who helped contribute to turn the park into a reality.”
It was easy to see how the skatepark had become this “cool place” for the community kids with skateboards and skateboard enthusiasts to hang out.
Also present at the opening were local personal and business owners who had contributed funds towards the project.
The Stettler Skatepark Association was formed four years ago and fundraising efforts made slow but steady progress with bottle drives and community barbecues.
Speaking of how the idea came about, Heidi Fraser, one of the board members of the skatepark association said, “I had been driving my son to skateparks all over central Alberta for two years in a row and decided it was time that Stettler had a decent skatepark as well.”
“Whenever I took Jared to other parks, I had my girls with me too, so that meant we were utilizing other facilities in that city or town as well… . I wanted to bring that to Stettler.”
Lee Penner, director, Parks and Leisure Services was an integral part of the fundraising process, helping with the paperwork for government grant applications, besides town, county and several service clubs presentations for funding.
Although phases 1 and 2 of the park were completed last fall in 2014, the association is still fundraising to complete phase 3, which is the bowl.
“We started meeting regularly with a few other parents and park users and pulled off some small fundraisers to get things going and get the word out there,” said Fraser. “Cathy Dadensky has also been on board since day one, and about a year into getting things started we were fortunate to have Mike Lawlor join our team.”
According to Fraser, for such a small core group, they really got a lot accomplished in a short period of time.
“Our most successful fundraiser by far has been our yearly ‘Kickflip into Christmas’ fundraiser, which is a night geared towards businesses bringing their staff for the Christmas party, however, anyone is welcome, it’s not just for businesses only,” said Fraser. “I love the skatepark! It’s right out my back door and is my son’s second home, and I love that it is a free facility with equal access to all, no matter age or ability.”
Speaking of the project, Lawlor added, “This was truly a project that couldn’t happen without a community banded together. The support we have had over the past four years has been unparalleled and really is what got this project happening.”
In his speech at the inuaguration Lawlor acknowledged all the volunteers and supporters and thanked the local residents and business owners for their support.
“Most importantly a massive thank you to all local residents and business owners for their support whether it be financial, volunteering, or even just voicing support to help create an action sports area, as well used as our skatepark is today.”