Skating the suburbs: New skateparks set to open in Thornton and Westminster

Right on the heels of the really-fucking-big-deal opening of the Don Anema Memorial Skatepark in Northglenn -- which rivals (if not outdoes) the Denver Skatepark for biggest park in the state -- come two more hot skate spots in the northern suburbs: the Trail Winds Skatepark in Thornton, set to open later this month, and a new itty-bitty spot for Westminster, whose funding was just announced.

And while neither of them will be nearly as big as Don Anema -- at least, not in size -- they'll both pack a lot of punch into what they have. And perhaps more important, both are great examples of a trend that's turning the Denver burbs more skate-friendly all the time.

Over the last few years, there's been an absolute explosion of new skateparks in the Denver metro area -- and not just some haphazard, flung-together-to-appease-the-kids skateparks. These are world-class parks designed and built by some of the most well- regarded names in the biz. Don Anema, for example, was designed by Team Pain, which designed two of the skateparks in Colorado that Westword has already deemed the finest in Colorado: the Colorado Springs Memorial Skatepark in 2009 and the Roxborough Skatepark in 2010. And don't just take our word for it; when National Geographic ranked the ten best skateparks in the country, Team Pain parks made up half the list.

Consider it an honor, then, that Team Pain also designed Trail Winds, the new Thornton park that's nearing completion under the skilled eye of also well-regarded skatepark designer California Skateparks, which took over the construction of the facility and made a few adjustments. That park, occupying some 13,000 square feet of space, will be mostly devoted to street skating, with transitions and a couple of banks.

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California Skateparks is also handling the reins of the just-announced Westminster digs at Kings Mill Park, just east of Standley Lake. Late last month the city of Westminster approved the $130,000 design-build contract, which is intended to fill space left in the park by a razed pool and head-start center. Rather than serve as a full-fledged skatepark, this one will function more as a "skate-spot," a plaza-style course packed into a postage-stamp-sized area of 4,500 square feet.

But it's not so much the size that counts as the motion, as they say, and there's plenty of proof that, with the right design, a small skatepark can work just fine. Take, for example, the tiny spot that opened at Aurora City Park in February: It may be small, but it's mighty enough to have won Best New Skatepark this year.

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