HAMILTON – Years of planning and fundraising paid off Saturday as a new skatepark officially opened in the Bitterroot.
Organizers are calling it the largest skating area in the state; at 13,000 square feet, Circle 13 Skatepark in Hamilton is finally up and running after 25 years of planning.
Board president Bryan Dufresne says years ago the only way for kids to skate safely, and legally, was to go out of town.
“And I saw the amount of joy it brought kids and just thought — there is no reason Hamilton can’t offer this to our community,” Dufresne said.
Voters approved a bond two years ago to purchase the land at Claudia Driscoll Park, and then donations — along with sponsors — made the facility a reality.
Pearl Jam guitarist Jeff Ament has helped build 20 skateparks in Montana.
“I feel lucky to be in the position I’m in. I’m a Montana kid, I grew up in Montana, and there’s really, honestly, nothing more exciting than putting skateparks in towns. The smaller the town, the better,” Ament said.
He discovered a love for skating visiting California and says he’s excited to bring that back to his home state. A local assisted-living home also contributed donations.
“These kids are going to be the future of our country, so it’s a great cause and we wanted to be involved and try to help make safe places for kids to come and skate and play,” said Discovery Care Center administrator Rick Bucheit.
Skaters of all ages are stoked for the new park.
“It’s been a long, long process, but to see all the kids out there having a blast makes it all worth it,” Ament said.
He says he puts half of his earnings from the band into his foundation for building skateparks. They build about five skateparks across the state every year, and Ament says they’re not done yet.
Skaters say before Circle 13, the closest parks were in Victor and Missoula.
Story by Katie Miller, MTN News