The Houghton Skate Park is nearing completion, but skaters will have to wait until the upcoming spring to use it. Colder temperatures and a lengthy rain season have slowed the project slightly, moving the estimated completion date to the end of next week, with a Grand Opening planned for the start of desired skateboarding weather.
The construction crew is now in the final stages of forming the ramps and features of the park. After more than a month of ground work, concrete is taking shape. And although the city is excited to present it, that will have to wait until spring
Houghton City Manager Eric Warra stated that once the crew has finalized the build, preparations will be made to protect the park for the winter and hopefully keep snowmobilers from riding over it. Such an incident could damage the park’s features, and, of course, cause an injury.
Mary Jane Lowney has been a key part in making the park come to be since the idea surfaced in 2015. “We’ve been at this about 3 years now. When we first started we met every Tuesday for a year and we put a lot of thought into it before we ever launched our fundraising side of it, said Lowney.
Much of the funding for the build came from three art auctions held at the Keweenaw Brewing Company, where local artists painted their designs on skateboard decks and forwarded the proceeds to the fundraiser. Some of those pieces produced over $2000 each. “Then along the way we met our $125,000 initial goal and decided we wanted more. We wanted a bigger park. We wanted a nicer park. We wanted to do what we expected to be phase two. We thought let’s just do it now. Let’s get her done,” she said.
A good portion of the money needed also came in the form of grants. Lowney said, “We looked for more grants and we looked for more aid and more donors and luckily came up with the MEDC, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and thanks to this wonderful community and the city, the local government, we raised the $50,000 that got matched by the MEDC, and eventually reached our $200,000 goal.”
While one grant was provided by the MEDC, another came from the Tony Hawk Foundation that promotes the construction of skateparks throughout the country. According to the stipulations associated with that grant, the park can only be constructed by contractors who specialize in skate parks, such as Spawn Ranch who came here from Southern California to build the park.
“I am so excited today watching this almost final pour to know it’s going to be done in a week and after 3 years of working on it I’m so excited and so proud and thankful for the other committee members. My son Alex has been very integral in this and Eric Warra has been so supportive. He’s been really wonderful to work with and to get us where we are today. We’re just really grateful and so excited to see it done,” Lowney said.