SAFFORD – There was plenty of grinding, ollies and backside airs Saturday morning, as the long-awaited Safford Skatepark held its grand opening.
The community came out in droves to Firth Park to see the opening of the newest addition to the recreational center. The opening was delayed a week so landscaping could be completely finished. Now with trees planted and the watering systems in place, it was finally time to open the park.
The woman behind the idea of the skatepark, Dr. Catherine Romero, began working toward the park’s construction two years ago. Romero recalled the idea came to her when she had taken her kids to Phoenix and had a family day at the Phoenix skatepark. Shortly afterward, she brought the idea of a local skatepark to the city of Safford.
“The city agreed to it as long as we did all the fundraising,” Romero said. “As a family doctor, the idea of a skatepark was great, especially because of childhood obesity. It’s a great way to burn calories. You never see an overweight skater.”
Romero and other volunteers secured funding from major sponsors, including Freeport McMoRan Inc, CKC Construction and the United Way of Graham County. As the community rallied its support, the idea that had been only a pipe dream in many people’s heads for many years came to fruition.
Safford Mayor Chris Gibbs was enthusiastic about the work of the community to benefit the youth. After giving several brief remarks, he said the city of Safford is always working on efforts for the good of the community.
“It’s a beautiful little facility that is a public-private partnership,” Gibbs said. “It is a good example, and we hope to continue doing things like this with the rest of the (Gila) Valley. We have a great place to live and this is another reason it is.”
Skating at the park, Joshua Cluff and his friends, Ashley Novello and Jackson Roll, were enjoying the shade near the park. The group had been visiting the skatepark for the past three days since it opened. They were impressed with several of the park’s attributes.
“I like the down rail coming off the step up,” Roll said. “Not many places have that, they just have stair steps when it’s a down rail. It’s worth the wait.”