Big Spring Skatepark taking shape

An Evergreen Skatepark employee spreads concrete using a heavy-duty hose Thursday.

Photo by Charlie Denison

Dan Reis, left, and Jason Stephens visit at the future site of Big Spring Skate Park Thursday morning. Stephens, who spearheaded the project with nonprofit Make It Happen, is also pouring concrete for Casino Creek Concrete. Reis is in town from Brazil filming a documentary on Montana skate parks.

Photo by Charlie Denison

A crew from Portland, Oregon’s Evergreen Skateparks works on Big Spring Skatepark Thursday morning. The project is moving along, as the skating bowl behind them indicates.
Photo by Charlie Denison

By: 
Charlie Denison
Reporter

 

“This is amazing, dude,” said Jason Stephens, looking around the site soon to be known as Big Spring Skatepark. A Lewistown native who grew up skating, Stephens, co-founder of Make It Happen Montana, a local nonprofit working to empower youth and bring social change, can hardly believe his dream of seeing a skate park in town is becoming a reality.

Pouring concrete with Casino Creek Concrete, Stephens can’t stay away, doing all he can to be as involved with the project as possible.

“Try to keep me away,” he said. “I’m impossible to contain. I’m up at 4 every morning. I’m rolling with this thing. I just can’t believe it. It takes all I have just to keep it together.”

Proud and elated, Stephens looks around the site behind the Central Montana Museum, smiling as he works. When he doesn’t have to pour, he admires the employees of Portland, Oregon’s Evergreen Skateparks, who work diligently on quarter pipes, ramps and the signature skate park bowl.

The pouring of concrete began Monday and will continue for the next few weeks.

“We are pouring five days a week until it’s done,” Stephens said. “We are shooting for 100 yards a week, 20 yards a day.”

And so far, so good, Stephens said, as everyone is on the same page and the skate park is coming to life.

There are a lot of people involved in making this happen, Stephens said, and he’s glad to see everyone doing their part. Evergreen Skatepark owner Billy Coulon is leading the way as project manager, and those working with him are respecting his vision. Andy Mathison, owner of Casino Creek Concrete, for example, has been cool with taking direction, Stephens said.

“Andy’s on top of it,” Stephens said. “He’s attentive to the mix design and open to an unconventional approach. He’s stepping out of his comfort zone and doing great.”

It’s all looking good, Stephens said, and on schedule.

“We are moving faster than anybody thought,” he said. “Evergreen expects to be done in two to three weeks, and we expect to have a bonafide hard opening in August.”

 

Getting attention

Stephens isn’t the only one excited about this project. Dan Reis of Sao Paulo, Brazil, stopped at the site Thursday morning, taking pictures and doing some filming for his documentary, “Montana Grind,” inspired by Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament’s efforts to build skate parks all over the state. A Big Sandy native, Ament didn’t have a skate park growing up, and through Montana Pool Service, he’s been helping communities such as Big Sandy and Lewistown fill that void for the youth.

When Ament told this to Reis during an interview for the filmmaker’s Brazilian TV series on skating culture, Reis was fascinated. Not long after their meeting, Reis took a trip to Big Sky Country, and he’s been following Ament’s skate park progress ever since.

“This is my fourth time here,” Reis said. “I’ve been pretty much everywhere: Baker, Glendive, Malta Stephensville, Browning, and, now, here in Lewistown.”

Reis said he likes the “classic, traditional” feel of Lewistown and thinks it’s a beautiful area. He looks forward to seeing the skate park completed.

“Growing up in Sao Paulo, it was my dream to have a skate park nearby,” he said. “Skating at a skate park is where I feel closest to freedom.”

Reis said he hopes the skate park serves this purpose for children who may have a similar longing.

“I hope the park here connects more kids to skating and that they can use it as a tool for self-esteem, self-expression and to feel more connected,” he said.

 

 

 

 

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