Hamilton council approves skate park at Claudia Driscoll


HAMILTON, Mont. - Hamilton's city council has voted to allow construction of a skate park at Claudia Driscoll Park near downtown.

Circle 13 has been working for years to bring a skate park to Hamilton.

Voters approved a bond measure to buy the popular park plus the old armory adjacent to it.

The purchase opened doors for the go-ahead to construct a skating area for kids.

Bryan Dufresne is the board president of Circle 13, the group that's spearheaded a skate park.

NBC Montana met Dufresne and his 10-year-old son, Finn, at the park on Friday. Dad was showing Finn a few skateboarding moves that he practiced when he was a kid.

Bryan can't wait to see a real skate park built at Claudia Driscoll's northwest corner. He has been working to make it a reality for years.

"It was always our No. 1 destination," he said, "and it was the No. 1 destination from some 20 years back."

Finn said he wants to be a skater like his dad.

"I think it's going to be great," said the youngster. "Because I got a skateboard for my birthday."

Bryan said he would like to see a skate park that is a combination of the bowl skaters in Stevensville enjoy, plus other amenities.

"The street aspect," he said. "Ledges, stairs, rails.We really want a fusion of the two."

Dufresne also would like to see a section designed especially for little kids.

He envisions a 13,000-square-foot skate park to go with the Circle 13 logo, although he said it's possible his ideal vision could be pared back to 10,000 square feet.

There were plans to build the skate park at the Ravalli County Fairgrounds, which is farther from downtown.

We met Brandi Wollam at Claudia Driscoll as she strolled through the park with her toddler. She said she would rather see the area slated for a skate park at Driscoll remain as open space.

"It should be left alone for families to enjoy," she said.

Dufresne thinks there will be plenty of open space left. He sees it as a positive addition for families.

"It ought to be just a hub of thriving family activity," he said.

But Rosemarie Ghersetti thinks a skate park would create too much noise for her son Michael. He has a medical condition in which excess noise bothers him. He likes the park when it is calm.

"He enjoys quiet," said Ghersetti. "He doesn't like loud or sudden noises."

Katrina Mendrey, who brought her two small children to play in the park, said one day her toddlers might enjoy having the skate park in their neighborhood.

"I want them to have places in Hamilton," she said, "that you can walk or bike to from our home."

The skate park will be funded privately. Bryan Dufresne said it will cost about $370,000. So far he said the group has raised about $160,000.

The city of Hamilton would maintain the park.

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