A quality skateboard park has been on the wish list of young people in the Soldotna area for over a decade. Attempts have been made by individuals over the years to build and place wooden ramps along some residential City streets, only to fall askance of City Ordinances. But thanks to the cooperation of the Soldotna Elks Club and City officials, the Soldotna Elks Little League Skate Board Park on Karen Street is open for thrills and spills.
Soldotna Skate Board Club president, Mike Sterm, leaps his board onto the new jump track.
The boost that was needed came from the Soldotna Elks Lodge after a bumper crop of sales of raffle tickets and pull-tabs in cooperation with the Soldotna Little League, "We were looking for a worthy project for all this money when somebody approached us about the skate park and we thought that it would be a tremendous idea and a great opportunity for the youth of our community. So we did some research about the costs of equipment for this endeavor and decided that the park was something that we could and would fund," said David Caswell, exulted ruler of the Soldotna Elks Lodge. According to Caswell, the ramps were manufactured to specifications for skateboard and bicycle tricking by a company that markets the equipment throughout the United States. The Elks contributed some $60,000 for the equipment, and the City of Soldotna added an additional $17,000 that allowed the park to add a paved runway to and from the new park.
With the extended fall weather the park has already seen heavy use, "I think I've counted almost 100 kids out there at one time already since the park opened," said Andrew Carmichael, Soldotna Parks & Recreation director. Mike Sterm, president of the Skyview/Soldotna Skate Friends, a group organized several years ago in support of a building a local skateboard park, was at the official ribbon cutting and was one of the first to try out the new equipment, "It's wonderful to actually have some place to go other than the streets to practice our sport. It's really great equipment; basically it's the best park on the Peninsula. Everything from beginning to intermediate and advanced is here. We have a 12 foot quarter pipe that an expert can turn all kinds of tricks on, it covers the whole array of skateboarding talent, " said Sterm, who has been skateboarding for over 5 years. According to Sterm, injuries are not as common as you might think. "I've had a few sprains, but never broken anything, I know some kids who have, but basically if you skate with common sense and within your ability then you'll be alright," added Sterm. The new park is open daily during daylight hours.
The first skate boarder hits the ramps.
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