The Nathan Lazarus Skatepark is the result of a five-year effort by local volunteers to build a Nederland skatepark. Here is a brief chronicle of the process.
Beginnings: Nederland can be a great place to live, but let’s face it; if you’re a teen, possibilities for fair-weather leisure time activity are pretty limited. In November of 2003, a group of Teens and older supporters began meeting under the guidance of the staff of a local non-profit organization TEENS, Inc., to do something about this situation; their goal was the construction of a free public skatepark in Nederland. In April of 2004, the teens and their supporters packed a meeting of the Nederland Board of Trustees, where they gave a multimedia presentation and convinced the Board to support the project and to site it on town-owned land adjacent to the Teen Center (owned and operated by TEENS, Inc.). Unfortunately, the town had no money, so the land, and a later commitment of some fill dirt and landscaping help from the Public Works Director, was all the support that would come from that quarter. The advocates hadn’t really thought beyond making their case to the town board, and the effort stagnated for a few months, until the facilitator, Kevin Brazanskas, quit to move out of state, and attempted to recruit some additional community members to the cause and to reengage the group before leaving. He reconvened the group in late August of 2004, inviting additional community members to take part.
Kevin handed off his leadership role to his replacement at TEENS, Inc., Stephen LeFaiver, and the reconstituted group began exploring directions and processes to follow to achieve their goal of a free public skatepark. They conducted a usage survey to document demand, prepared information packets to educate the public and government officials about the project, and contacted other Colorado communities with recent skatepark projects for advice. Then the group, calling themselves the Nederland Sk8Park Advisory Council (NSPAC), began working its way back up the local government ladder, obtaining endorsements from the Open Space and Parks Advisory Board and the Planning Commission.
Growth: Initially, NSPAC relied on a local NPO, the Peak to Peak Healthy Communities Project, to umbrella them for purposes of tax-deductible donations, but it became apparent that it would be advantageous to become a 501(c)(3) organization in its own right. NSPAC incorporated under the name, NEDSK8, Inc., and applied to the IRS for exempt status, granted in March of 2005. NEDSK8 was, and remains, an all-volunteer organization, with a Board of Directors and an Executive Director. TEENS, Inc. dropped its sponsorship of the effort early on, when it became that NSPAC was self-sustaining, though Stephen LeFaiver, now Executive Director of TEENS, Inc., has been a member of the NEDSK8 Board of Directors from the beginning.
Process: A request for Proposals was sent to a select group of design/build firms in September of 2005. Airspeed Skateparks was selected, from the respondents to design and build the park. NEDSK8 sponsored a series of three public design workshops that October, with Airspeed representative Chris Berry, out of which an initial design was chosen. (This design underwent several revisions over the course of the next few years, at both builder and NEDSK8 initiative). Armed with a design and a not-to-exceed cost, NEDSK8 began applying for grants to fund the park. The first, and the last, grants received were from the Alan Green Memorial Foundation of Gilpin County. The largest award, without which the facility could never have been built, was a $200,000 grant from Great Outdoors Colorado. Other foundations supporting this project are the Tony Hawk Foundations, the Daniels Fund, the Gates Family Foundation, The Denver Foundation, the El Pomar Foundation and the Community Foundation Serving Boulder County. A full list of donors can be seen on the NEDSK8 website.
Early in 2008, the Tony Hawk Foundation, which had earlier granted NEDSK8 an award of its highest amount, made another offer: if the Town of Nederland would agree to dedicate the park to a young man from nearby Boulder, the THF would award an additional $50,000 towards construction of the project. Nathan Lazarus had teamed with Tony on the FOX TV game show, Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?, to win a sizable amount of money for the work of the foundation, and Tony had promised him on the show that he would see that a skatepark was dedicated to him. The Town agreed, and hence the name of Nederland’s skatepark became The Nathan Lazarus Skatepark.
Partners: The following entities had crucial roles in the creation of the skatepark:
- NEDSK8, Inc. – NEDSK8, under the leadership of its Executive Director, Randy Lee, managed the process from start to finish. NEDSK8 raised the funds for the park, put out the design/build RFP, selected and contracted with the designer/builder, oversaw public design meetings, and managed the construction of the skatepark.
- Town of Nederland – The Town of Nederland provided the land for the park, and will insure the facility and provide major maintenance, as needed. Its Public Works Department has provided fill material and various types of invaluable support throughout the process.
- City of Boulder – Boulder entered into an intergovernmental agreement with Nederland which resulted in additional land for the skatepark and the provision for future nearby restrooms. The City’s Barker Reservoir Manger, Jim Creek, provided support in numerous ways, for the facility that sits at the edge of Boulder’s reservoir property.
- TEENS, Inc. – TEENS, Inc. got the ball rolling, by organizing local teens to push for a local skatepark, provided meeting space throughout the process and allowed use of their property for the spectator area and entrance.
Construction: Skatepark construction began in July of 2008, after a successful community fund drive to raise the final needed funds for the $500,000 facility. An uncommonly pleasant fall allowed construction to be completed in three months time.
What’s Ahead?: NEDSK8 has partnered with the Nederland Downtown Development Authority, Boulder Flycasters and the City of Boulder’s Water Quality Division to create a water park along Middle Boulder Creek in Nederland. Reflecting the organization’s ongoing commitment to recreation in Nederland, NEDSK8 is now dba NedRec.