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Brookside Skatepark to be reworked or rebuilt

Local skateboarding icon envisions new skatepark as best idea
Ross Herrera readies for takeoff in bowl at Brookside Skatepark. (David Edward Albright/Durango Herald)

City of Farmington Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs department is looking at two options for creating a Brookside Skatepark. One option is to renovate the existing park, while the other option is a complete rebuild.

Ross Herrera, 35, has been skating for 23 years.

“My primary vision for the park kind of goes a few different ways,” he said.

From his perspective, a different location may be the most logical and ideal, but otherwise the current park needs a complete rebuild.

Herrera and his wife, Annette, opened 505 Shredz Skateboard in September in downtown Farmington at 211 W. Main St. They welcome local skaters of all ages to enjoy the friendly vibe of their shop, where a video monitor shows local skaters performing tricks at Brookside Skatepark and other locales. Annette said business has been steady.

The city of Farmington has scheduled a community input meeting for 5:45 p.m. Monday, March 20, at Brookside Park. Annette expects a good turnout from skateboard enthusiasts. “We shared it and we’re hoping all our riders show up,” she said.

City of Farmington spokesperson Christa Chapman said in an email that the planning team is working with Pland Collaborative and subcontractor Spohn Ranch Skateparks, for the design of the skatepark.

Spohn Ranch Skate Parks, an award-winning skateboard designer based in Los Angeles, has three decades of experience building skateboard parks in more than 40 states and 15 countries.

Herrera and other avid skaters love to skate and film at Brookside Skatepark. “Everybody films everybody down there,” Annette said. They film and upload to YouTube, she said, as a video of skaters played on the screen in her shop.

One of Herrera’s “homies” filmed him doing an airborne skateboard trick called the “backside flip,” which became their business logo and clothing-gear image.

The shop was a family venture, but they got some help from San Juan College with their website.

“We’re still new, so we’re working on certain products,” Herrera said. “We’re here to serve the skating community … the kids who just want a place to hang out or chill … they’re all welcome. It’s just a good, friendly place.”

Their shop also has hosted local competitions.

Herrera enjoys working with kids who don’t have quite enough money for a board. “We want to keep everyone riding, whether you’re trying to go pro or just ride around town,” he said.

Herrera estimated there are at least 100 local skaters, but many more come into Farmington from the surrounding region.

Herrera has competed at events in Albuquerque and Durango, but has skated at some of the best parks around. He has been to a few of the skateparks built by Spohn Ranch and mentioned Fifth Pocket Skateparks from Philadelphia, as another great builder.

He said Fifth Pocket just built a skatepark in Two Grey Hills region in the area of Newcomb. Herrera rides for Enchantment Skatepark in Gallup, which was built by Spohn Ranch. “It’s a really nice park … like the one they built in Santa Fe.”

When asked if he considers himself to be a mentor for young skaters, Herrera said, “I really don’t like to answer that question because I might sound cocky. But when I hear them and others talking, ‘I’m a Brookside legend!’”

“I started here from Day One. It kept me away from gangs. It kept me away from drugs. It kept me away from major trouble,” Herrera said. No matter where his family traveled – Las Vegas or Denver – he headed to the skatepark.

Ross dedicated this photo to his recently deceased friend, Willem “Tomatoes” Tolerdo. “I love you, man,” he said. (David Edward Albright/Durango Herald)

“It was literally my love,” he said. That’s why he and his wife opened Shredz and why he hangs out with the young skaters filming and posting on YouTube. Herrera was there with several teenage skaters on a blustery mid-March day.

“My main thing for skateboarding is, it don’t matter if you’re doing it for tricks or riding to school, as long as you’re on a skateboard you’re a skater,” Herrera said. “It does’t matter your age, your gender, your ethnicity – skateboarding is for everyone. That’s what make skaters united. And have fun.”

Dorian Thrasher, 14, focused on the social benefit.

“What he said about keeping drugs away from the park and (expletive) is almost like – true! ‘Cause I know all these people could have been in really serious trouble … but they came here and kind of distracted themselves … and learned to love it.”

Logan Bates, 15, a sophomore at Piedra Vista High School, has skateboarded about three years.

“It’s just a stress release. It’s pretty fun,” he said.

Logan Bates is one of Herrera’s talented young protégés. (David Edward Albright/Durango Herald)

“The prefab stuff has to go,” Herrera said, “along with some of the steel features that have dangerous protruding seams and lips.”

A whole new skatepark makes more sense to Herrera from a cost standpoint. The current one could remain as is while another is built to keep pace with more up-to-date industry standards in the skateboard world.

He said they have had two sit-down sessions with park officials to discuss redoing the park.

The area that is landscaped with wood chips above several of the obstacles at the park also pose a problem, Herrera said, because inevitably the wood chips end up on the skatepark features. Ross said he and the skaters now take care of certain cleanup issues like clearing out dirt, leaves and landscape bark. The current park is overdue for a remodel, he said.

Herrera suggested that redoing the existing park with new obstacles would inspire young skaters who have never seen newer features before and motivated them to work harder for what they love and are passionate about.

Rachelle Crosby, park planner for the city of Farmington, heads up the project. The design phase of the project has been funded. Brookside Skatepark, built in the early 1990s, is “considered one of our regional parks, and the skatepark is highly used daily throughout the year,” according to Chapman.