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Revamped SF skate park gets rave reviews

Kevin Teske, 27, tries out the new-look DeVargas Skateboard Park during grand opening ceremonies Saturday. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)
Kevin Teske, 27, tries out the new-look DeVargas Skateboard Park during grand opening ceremonies Saturday. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)
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Dozens of people on skateboards, BMX bikes and scooters were more than happy to help Santa Fe inaugurate its new skate park on Saturday.

“So far it’s a zoo,” said 19-year-old Maddie Anderson as she took a break after running through the park’s rails and quarter-pipe on her board. “It’s really cool. It seems like everyone respects each other.”

Dozens of skateboarders and BMX bikers mobbed the DeVargas Skateboard Park on Saturday to try out the new facilities. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Dozens of skateboarders and BMX bikers mobbed the DeVargas Skateboard Park on Saturday to try out the new facilities. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

The grand reopening of the DeVargas Skateboard Park, part of the Fanta Se festival by Creative Santa Fe, entertained the skaters with live bands, art and light installations, and DJs who played music from stacks of speakers right on the edge of the park.

The skate park has existed in that space since about 1995, according to information on CreativeSantaFe.org. However, by 2008 it was looking shabby, according to news archives. After getting approval from the city’s Historic Design Review Board back in October 2011, designers said the renovated park would have more of a plaza-type feel to it. Plans were to spend about $300,000 on construction for the 8,000-square-foot park.

Park designers pointed to a number of renovations to keep the park board-worthy, not the least of which was fixing crumbling concrete.

Logan Bonwell, 19, said he’s been coming to the park for a number of years and that he appreciated its location near downtown Santa Fe, along with the makeover of the park’s ramps. “It has more of a street feel,” he said. “It’s where it needs to be.”

Angelo Meyer, 15, was a first-time visitor to the park from Albuquerque. He was having fun with the overall incline the park has. “I like the flow of the park,” he said.

Designers also focused on shade structures, one of which faces Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, and improved lighting.

The redesign was informed by input from local skaters at meetings held in summer 2011.

Vince Kadlubek of the Meow Wolf art collective was there helping with music and light installations. He said events like Saturday’s were important because they’re focused on younger people living in Santa Fe. There wasn’t anything about “cowboy boots or turquoise,” things typically associated with Santa Fe’s tourism industry, at the festival, he said.

“More investments like this need to happen if the city wants to have a flourishing future,” he said.

Katelyn Peer, a project coordinator of Creative Santa Fe, said events like Saturday’s festival were collaborations with the Santa Fe community. She said the group is interested in seeing what can happen when the city “works and plays together.”

They’re seeking public input on projects such as plans for El Parque Del Rio in the city, interactive light exhibits and a proposed city-wide winter lights festival. She said people could communicate with the group about upcoming projects through contact information on their web site.

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