There was a time not too long ago when one could find “Skateboarding is not a crime” stickers on the rear bumpers of cars and trucks packed with boards all over the U.S. As it turns out, however, skateboarding is a crime—or at least a misdemeanor punishable with a small fine—in almost all of downtown Whitefish, according to city ordinance.
That’s partly why Brendan Rohan formed the nonprofit Whitefish Skateboard Association (WSA), whose aim is to build a 15,000-square-foot cement skatepark in Whitefish. Already, the WSA has secured land from the city at the Whitefish Armory, and donations from individuals have amounted to $55,000 so far—more than half of the $100,000 Rohan says is needed to complete phase one of the project—a 4,300-square-foot park.
Rohan, a Whitefish resident who owns his own skatepark company (which will not be involved with the Whitefish park) and serves as a photographer for various snowboarding and skateboarding magazines, says that although he and fellow WSA organizers—most of whom are in their 30s—are bowl skaters, the park will be designed to offer 75 percent street skating, which most of the younger local skaters seem to favor. Currently, those younger high school skaters spend much of their time skating in places that are technically illegal, such as the Whitefish Post Office, the design of which, says Rohan, practically makes it a skatepark by default.
“We decided that if the park doesn’t have a lot of street stuff, they’d still skate at the post office,” Rohan says, though he warns that the park is unlikely to completely eliminate all illegal skateboarding. “I just hope the street kids realize that [sacrifice], because who’s doing all the work on this? The bowl guys.”
Meanwhile, similar efforts are progressing in Missoula, says Chris Bacon, president of the nonprofit Missoula Skatepark Association, which will hold a public meeting on the proposed Missoula park’s design Wednesday, April 13. For more on either project, see www.missoulaskatepark.org or www.skatewhitefish.com.