New equipment spruces up park

Cannon Connections photo: Liliana Castillo The skate park’s dimensions measure 80 by 120 feet.

By Argen Duncan: PNT Senior Writer

The skate boards, in-line skates and even scooters are rolling again.

The Chavez Manor West housing area has a new skatepark, and new playground equipment nearby. The two sets of playground equipment are appropriate for different ages, and the 80-by-120-foot skatepark is covered.

Skateboarder Airman 1st Class Dominique Smith said the skatepark has a good variety of ramps, rails and boxes. He plans to use the facility almost daily.

“I think it’s a good park,” Smith, 19, said.

Doc Stewart Park, as the facility is officially called, had its grand opening in November.

“That’s one of the largest skateparks you’ll see,” said Jeanette Hattan, outdoor recreation manager of the 27th Special Operations Force Support Squadron.

No other skatepark of that size lies within 200 miles, she said.

“We wanted to give the community the best we could give them,” James Laquerre, deputy of the Support Squadron, said.

Hattan said putting together Doc Stewart Park cost $438,000, which came from discretionary Special Operations Wing money.

Laquerre said when he arrived at Cannon Air Force Base eight years ago, the Chavez housing area had a worn out wooden skatepark. Wood dries, rots and splits in eastern New Mexico’s environment.

“It was an accident waiting to happen,” he said.

The skatepark was removed in 2002, and Laquerre said airmen and youth in the housing area have been asking for another ever since.

In 2002, the pad for the skatepark went in, but it took until last year to get the money to finish the project. The skatepark and playground took three months to build.

Hattan said a junior enlisted panel helped pick out the product.

The facility’s ramps, purchased from American Ramp Company, are made of galvanized steel with a rust-resistant coating. The material is “sound protected” to keep the noise level down, Hattan said.

Also, American Ramp Company will reconfigure the ramps at any time, Hattan said.

A canopy shades the entire skating area.

Bikes aren’t allowed, and users must wear helmets. As another safety feature, the park includes an emergency phone that only calls 911.

As for the playground equipment, Hattan said, it’s made of recycled material, and wood chips cover the ground. The area includes the playgrounds to “create a nice family environment that was desparately needed there,” she said.

Only military personnel, their dependents and guests, military retirees and Department of Defense civilian employees are allowed to use the park. Guests must have identification and stay with their sponsor.

“That is a military facility on a military installation,” Hattan said.