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Holladay Journal

‘World-class’ skatepark coming to Holladay

May 10, 2021 11:02AM ● By Zak Sonntag

Sabrina Petersen cheers the city’s new skatepark design. (Zak Sonntag/City Journals)

By Zak Sonntag | [email protected]

City officials have approved the final design for a skatepark coming to the Holladay City park, a response to the sport’s resurgence in recent years as a new generation of riders have taken to the streets—and curbs and benches. 

The park is an attempt by the city to reconcile competing interests between the area’s skaters and various property owners whose handrails and stair-sets currently serve as the community’s unofficial skatepark.

“I’ve been kicked off the cyclery property. I’ve been kicked out of Tony Burger. All of our friends have been kicked out of so many places. But truthfully, I can see how they would get annoyed, so we try our best to be respectful—but where were we supposed to skate?” said Hans Vågen, an 18-year-old Olympus High School student.

After banning skateboarding in public areas like the Village, the city teamed up with a group of stakeholders and local skaters to create a space meant to entice these athletes away from the public plazas and into a location designed specifically for them.

“This is a state-of-the-art, world-class modern skatepark design. It’s going to be one of the coolest skateparks in Utah, and it was shaped with input from users who will be using it directly,” said Vince Onel, the park’s project manager and creator. 

Designed by Spohn Ranch, the park will be a 9,000-square-foot area at the south end of City Hall. It will accommodate a complete spectrum of riding styles and skill levels, from beginner to advanced, while including both street and transition terrain. The park will have multiple access points along with locations for spectator seating. The park’s design is meant to be inclusive to a variety of wheel-riders.

“Bikes, scooters, in-line skates; all non-motorized wheels can enjoy this facility,” Onel said.

But as anticipation for the park builds, there is concern that demand may exceed supply, and attitudes about mixed-sport inclusivity are split.

“I think of myself as a ‘skate-or-die’ type of guy. At skateparks there is an etiquette, just like there is in golf, and I feel like bikers and scooter kids don’t get the etiquette,” Vågen said. “The bikes are so much beefier that they overpower the skateboards, and the bikers go so fast I’ve seen them hit skateboarders and lay them out. Then the scooter kids ride in packs, and they come at you like a wall. So I’m mixed on the idea of having so many different [users].”

Other skaters like the idea of a big-tent skatepark that welcomes a variety of users. Holladay resident Dominic Nugent got an early start, stepping onto his first skateboard at the age of 4, and spent many hours in skateparks across the state where he witnessed occasional culture clash.

“I think everybody should be able to use it. I don’t like the idea of it being limited to any group. At some skateparks you’ve got skaters who act like they own it or deserve it more. I don’t think that’s cool. My younger brother bikes, and I don’t want him to get left out,” Nugent said.

Beyond the variety of users, the park will have a plethora of features, like the inground pools with depths between 5 and 7 feet, and angular and linear elements that emulate natural urban environments, like handrails and benches and curbs. 

“I’m into street skating. I love stairs, rails and boxes. If the city is concerned with the stairs and curbs around Holladay getting beat up, then they should incorporate more street features into the park,” Nugent said. “And I think once we have a park you’ll see less skaters on the business property and city stairs around Holladay.”

Beyond bowls and street features, what sets the park apart most is an “iconic, one-of-a-kind vertical structure that in an abstract way is meant to look like a mountain. Nothing like this exists in any other skatepark, not only in Utah but in the country as a whole. So when it appears in photos and videos, which it’s definitely going to, you’ll instantly know that this is the Holladay skatepark,” Onel said.

The mountain-esque feature, which will function like a quarter-pipe, will be stamped with the City logo sure to boost the city’s street-cred when it appears in social media posts, a bit of branding the city council welcomes. Furthermore, councilmembers and residents are excited to inject vibrancy into an under-utilized area of the city, and create a vibrant community gathering center in an area that’s currently a fallow stretch of land.

For District 1 Councilmember Sabrina Petersen, the location of the skatepark is especially rewarding.

“I’m excited with the skatepark because it will be one of my last hoorahs as a councilmember. I had a constituent tell me he’d never been so excited because he can now skate with his grandkids—he’s 62 years old,” Petersen said.

The generational skateboard baton is being passed, and the City of Holladay is now officially a part of the process. 

“Skateboarding has boomed,” Vågen said, “In the last few years, it totally blew up. There’s more skateboarding now than ever.”