Public skate ramp opens in Marfa

Marfa’s public skate ramp held its grand opening last weekend at Coffield Park with Lester King and James Rosinbaum,the two men responsible for bringing the ramp to Marfa, dropping in on the ramp from opposite sides and tearing a long ribbon that was attached to both sides of the ramp to kick it off.

King and Rosinbaum work for Enabler, an Austin-based company that consists of several carpenters, furniture-makers and welders. The two moved to Marfa about two years ago for work.

“When we moved out here, we brought the ramp with us, and that is when we went to the city and asked if they had a place where we could give it a new home,” Rosinbuam said.

They worked with Trey Gerfers, a volunteer with the Marfa Parks And Recreation Development Corporation, to obtain money from the city to resurface the ramp.

“Lester and James approached us and wanted to donate the ramp,” Gerfers said. “They came to one of our meetings with a presentation and I moved that we go ahead and do it.” They paid $6,258.25 to resurface the ramp and the cost was approved by the city earlier this year.

King and Rosinbaum have been skating for decades, “It’s been a valuable thing in our lives, so we wanted to pass it on in some respects,” King said. “Marfa is a unique place for it because there is no infrastructure or precedent for skateboarding. We thought it would be cool to build something that would allow that to take place and try to get it started by getting these kids some skateboards.”

Mayor Pro Tem Irma Salgado, who is also a member of the Parks Board, was handing out raffle tickets during the grand opening. “We need something for the kids to do,” she said. Salgado has two granddaughters who skate.

“A lot of kids end up getting into trouble or other things, so this is wonderful,” Saldago said. “It’ll give [the kids] something to do. They’ll stay out of trouble and their parents will know where they’re at.”

City Councilmember Raul Lara was also in attendance. “I think it’s just a great project for the community,” Lara said. “The parks board has done an outstanding job upgrading all the playground facilities, too.”

The parks board has redone the dog park and added a new playground set. He said that they will work on getting a shade structure for the playground set next year.

“This is sort of the tip of the iceberg,” Gerfers said. In August, the board unanimously approved a motion to contact a surveyor and an engineer.

“We are going to do a redesign of the entire park,” Gerfers said. The city council has given the parks board permission to close the road in Coffield Park, and they will then plan to completely re-landscape the entire area, adding a kitchen and bathrooms in hopes of turning the area into a more useful asset for the community.

Gerfers said that the board wants to add more picnic areas on one side and a hiking trail that will zig-zag through the whole park. “We are in the preliminary phases,” he said. He will present the survey during this weeks meeting on Thursday.

“The main goal is to get this area shadier, leafier, more inviting,” Gerfers said. The parks board planted a couple of pine trees in the park about four or so years ago. “This place [felt] forbidden, it was just wind-blasted and sunburnt,” he said. “That’s when I started thinking about how can we redevelop this? We had a lot of funding that was put toward redoing all of the ballparks,” he said. The final payment on that note is next year and then the city will be able to dedicate more money to the park.

“Old Marfans see the improvements that are happening,” Gerfers said. “The town is changing, and obviously there is some conflict about that, but parks is doing the best we can to take the tax revenues from the sales tax and plowing it into benefits for people who live here.”

There will be many phases to this new development. “Once we get the engineering and get the site plans, then we will start getting bids,” Gerfers said. “Once we have bids we’ll be able to figure out how we will finance it, if we are going to do grants or bonds or loans.”

“We don’t know what it is going to cost yet, but we have good income,” Gerfers said. “It’s a board decision, but I’m going to push us to grow our money through grants, that way we don’t have debt and we’ve got a more positive cash flow.”

“This isn’t for weddings, this isn’t for photoshoots, this is for the people who live here so they can gather and recreate and exercise,” Gerfers said. “This is just one pice of the bigger puzzle that we are working on.”