Boise's Rhodes Skatepark
was flooded April 23—not by cold, driving rain but with hundreds of kids, anxious to dive into the bowls of the just-reopened skate park. In fact, the skateboarders had little patience for the speeches and ceremony to mark the event.
"Boy, did Glenn get it right," said Boise Parks and Recreation Director Doug Holloway.
That would be the late Glenn Rhodes, the former Ada County Highway District Commissioner for whom the park is named. Nearly a quarter-century ago. Rhodes told anyone who would listen that Boise needed a public skatepark, and the unused land parcel under the Boise Connector would be ideal.
"Think about that for a minute. How unlikely is it that a retired ACHD commissioner would start this whole thing? Well, this is Idaho, where the unlikely occurs everyday," said Chris Heise, owner of the BoardRoom
and board member of the Boise Skateboard Association
. "Glenn almost single-handedly built this park himself."
The park opened 24 years ago but fell into disrepair in later years and became a gathering spot for many of Boise's homeless men and women
, in part because of its proximity to homeless shelters. Two years ago, the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation, along with the Boise Skateboard Association, approached the city with a plan to redesign the skatepark.
"Honestly, I thought maybe this was a project whose time had come, but I also thought it would take 10 years of fundraising—here we are, only two years later. The impossible happens all the time around here," said Bieter. "Everybody's concerned that young people don't get out and move around enough; and childhood obesity is an issue we all face. But I've never seen a fat skateboarder."
The Albertson Family Foundation fueled the redevelopment with a $1.25 million gift
and the city kicked in an additional $300,000 to makeover the park. The skateboard elements are complete but new lighting, sustainable landscaping and public art
are still-to-come. A bigger grand opening
scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 6.
Instead of cutting a ribbon to re-open Rhodes park, BSA board member Josh Davis said Saturday's event needed something more appropriate.
"We're going to forego the ribbon cutting. It would be more appropriate to break a skateboard," said Davis to the ear-splitting cheers of the skateboarders. With that, Davis he re-christened the renovated park by cracking a "Rhodes Means Love" board.