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Post Info TOPIC: Jeff and the Missoula Skatepark

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Jeff and the Missoula Skatepark

Happy New Year, folks!

I'm sure most of you will remember talk which arose during the 2003 tour about Jeff/Pearl Jam being involved in the construction of a skatepark in Missoula... I found this info courtesy of a couple of other PJ Boards, and since I sincerely doubt anyone here is gonna haul their butt to Montana strictly to meet him at this event, I thought I'd post these details here, just for interest's sake:

Missoula Skatepark Association, Missoula Redevelopment Agency, and
Missoula Parks and Recreation Announce
Public Skatepark Meeting #1 at 4:30 pm on January 12, 2005
Missoula Public Library – Large Meeting Room

Learn about this project, meet skatepark designers, Jeff Ament (of
Pearl Jam) & the rest of the organizational committee while
contributing your ideas and opinions.

MISSOULA, MT (January 3rd, 2005) – The Missoula Skatepark Association
(MSA), Missoula’s 501(c)3 non-profit skateboarding organization, the
Missoula Redevelopment Agency, and the Missoula Parks & Rec Department
announce the first of 2 public skatepark meetings to help design the
free, public, concrete skatepark located in Missoula’s McCormick Park.

All interested parties are invited to learn more and contribute design
ideas to this landmark project. The meeting will be located at the
Missoula Public Library in the large meeting room on the lower level
starting at 4:30 pm. The meeting will be organized into two separate
time slots as described below.

The first slot will run from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. (1/12/05) and will offer
all interested parties the opportunity to contribute ideas on the
specific skate-able surface design of the park with the actual
designers. Drawing materials will be provided for anyone interested in
illustrating their ideas. Skateboarders and in-line skaters are
encouraged to attend this meeting and parents are to join in this fun
and exciting process. Participating individuals are highly encouraged
to bring any ideas they may already have for the park (pictures, video,
drawings, etc.).

The second meeting slot will run from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m (1/12/05) and
will offer all other interested parties the opportunity to learn more
about the project and comment on the Missoula Skatepark in general.
This includes any concerns that citizens may have as well as ideas for
fundraising, design, and basic questions & answers from the Missoula
city officials, designers, & the Missoula Skatepark Association.

Missoula resident Jeff Ament, a member of the musical group Pearl Jam,
will be on hand during both meeting slots to explain his involvement
with this project and why it is important to our community. Pearl
Jam’s Foundation (Vitalogy Health Foundation) is the major private
donor to date.

For more information please contact either MSA President Chris Bacon
(xxx-xxxx) or Parks and Rec. Director Donna Guakler (xxx-xxxx). Any
questions can also be sent via email to: or
Missoula Skatepark Association
618 S. Higgins Ave.
Missoula, MT 59801


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Hello Sarah,
Long time! Happy New Year to you too, I wish you the best.

Oh well! I thought that that skatepark was already finished! Man, it’s really dragging! Isn’t it cool that Jeff gets involved in the community like this? I’m proud of him.

So he’s back in Missoula; are they done recording? PJ that is; I guess they are. And what about Montana, will they ever release that album??? I wonder what the problem is.

I just got PJ’s GHits. Took me a while hasn’t it? It’s a beautiful production again, very proud of them. Although my fav PJ is not the early stuff, it’s nice to hear the re-mixes of Once, Alive and Black; I remember reading that they would have loved to re-mix the whole Ten album, at least, they got a shot at a couple of them. And I love the photos that were picked for the booklet. PJ will be PJ… For whatever reason, I thought that since they were not involved with EPIC anymore, that since the page was turned, that they would not be too serious about that compilation, after all, they just did the Lost Dogs thing. I thought it would be released in a jewel case… I’m happy I was wrong!

Did you get the Xmas single? I doubt it…

Thank you very much for the info Sarah, very cool of you,


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And another article on the subject in

Skateboarders get chance to design park
By GINNY MERRIAM of the Missoulian

What do you want in the new Missoula Skatepark? Ledges? Stairs? Spines? Bowls? Snake runs? Rails? Banks?

Come on Wednesday and tell the designers of the future park inside McCormick Park what you think. They'll take away the ideas and come back in four to six weeks with a design and a three-dimensional model for the long-in-progress project. Jeff Ament of Pearl Jam will be there to put in his two cents, too.

"We want people to shoot high," said Chris Bacon, president of the Missoula Skatepark Association. "Give us your dream park. Then we'll go from there."

The park's designers, Grindline Skateparks of Seattle, will design a park for the east end of McCormick Park on land dedicated to the project by the city. For now, the future park's plan is wide open.

One thing's for sure, Bacon said: The park will be a multi-user-level area. It will have areas and features from beginners' to experts'.

"And everything in between," he said.

Tait Brink, recreation specialist with Missoula Parks and Recreation, which is a partner in the project, visualizes a Missoula kid starting out as a youth on the beginners' features and then returning as a pro skateboarder to the park's expert features years later.

The project grew out of need, Brink said. In the survey that the Parks and Rec department did before developing its master plan for McCormick Park, the public put a skatepark fourth in priority, just after indoor and outdoor pools, he said.

Members of the Missoula Redevelopment Agency board voted unanimously to give the Missoula Skatepark $100,000 after the Skatepark Association approached them for help with a very organized, sophisticated application, said Tod Gass, project manager at the MRA.

"It's time that skateboarding gets recognized just like soccer, softball and other sports," he said.

Ten or 15 years ago, people might have thought skateboarding was a fad, Bacon said.

"It's hard to turn on the TV without seeing a skateboarder in a commercial or a competition," he said.

The new park built in Great Falls has been getting "tons" of use, Bacon said, and is a destination park as Missoula's is expected to become.

The idea for the park began about five years ago when Bacon and some other skateboarders put up some ramps under the Higgins Avenue Bridge.

"It turns out we really weren't supposed to be there," he said. "So that brought up, 'Well, where are we supposed to be?' "

Bacon contacted Parks and Rec director Donna Gaukler, and she and the MRA staff helped start and plan the effort.

The city of Missoula dedicated the land in McCormick Park and committed to managing and operating the skatepark. In addition to the MRA's $100,000, Pearl Jam's Vitalogy Health Foundation pledged $50,000. The MRA money requires matching funds, and the Pearl Jam pledge meets half that requirement. The Missoula Skatepark Association will raise the remaining $50,000 and the rest of the money needed.

The Skatepark Association has already raised $38,000, Bacon said. Big Sky Brewery's summer concert series donated part of its proceeds, and the Board of Missoula (now the Edge of the World) raised money with video premieres.

A core of about five Skatepark Association members have sold T-shirts, and collection buckets on counters around town have also attracted donations.

The very broad cost range for the project is $300,000 to $460,000, said Gass. A budget can be made once the design is set.

"They're hoping to get major donations too from contractors for rebar, concrete, fencing, landscaping," he said. "These guys are hoping Missoula will step up to the plate and support the project."

Bacon hopes that in-line skaters attend Wednesday's design session, too. And BMX bicyclists are welcome, too. The park will not include BMX, but the meeting could give those who participate in that sport some ideas about leading their own effort for an area.

Ament himself has been skateboarding for 25 or so years, Bacon said. The area including Missoula, Frenchtown, Bonner and the Bitterroot probably has about 500 to 1,000 skateboarders, he said. That wide appeal will help the fund-raising for the park, he said.

"I feel really confident that once we get this (design), we can go out there and really hit it home," he said. "But that's up to Missoula."

To contribute

Contributions to the Missoula Skatepark may be sent to the nonprofit Missoula Skatepark Association, 618 S. Higgins Ave., Missoula, MT 59801. Donations may also be made on its Web site, Donations are tax-deductible.

Proceeds from the recycling of aluminum cans at BFI can be donated at BFI's recycle center on West Broadway.


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Hey again!

I was about to post that second article the other day, but you beat me to the punch!

I remember Jeff saying in the summer of '03 that plans for the skatepark were at that time subject to what he called "(the) classic red tape"... I'm not even sure they had any kind of approval for it at that point, whereas at least now they seem to have secured some aspects of it. I have no idea how long such things would normally take. I checked for a post-meeting update, and while there weren't really specifics given, it implied that things went positively.

I don't know what the status of the Montana record is. I look up the occasional King's X site from time to time hoping to find out more, but I haven't seen anything beyond that old update containing the photos and announcing the title and the involvement of McCready.

The Ten Club sent out an update regarding the status of the Xmas single... There was apparently a pressing problem, and they allegedly started shipping out of Portland Jan. 11-12.

I bought the Greatest Hits record a couple of weeks ago, and like you, was surprised at the over-all quality, and by proxy, the degree to which the band was involved. I'm still not a fan of the concept of any band's Greatest Hits album, however.

I heard the other day that Jeff was in Seattle attending the Jan. 9 Heat/Sonics game, so maybe he's in one of those phases where he jumps back and forth between both cities. I haven't heard any news of the band coming together as a whole yet this month, especially since Ed seems to have had a few events out of California to attend to. My uneducated guess would be that maybe they won't start up again in the studio until Feb.


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Jeff skating in Grand Rapids

Not related to the Missoula Skatepark project exactly, but I thought people would get a kick out of this little blurb...

Pearl Jam bassist hits local skate bowl.(Entertainment)

The Grand Rapids Press (Grand Rapids, MI); 10/10/2004

Byline: The Grand Rapids Press

What does Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament do to warm up for a gig? Apparently he likes to grab a few ollies and rail-slides.

When the Seattle rock outfit hit Grand Rapids last week for a Sunday night show in the DeltaPlex Entertainment and Expo Center, Ament spent a few afternoon hours hitting the skate bowl at Modern Skate and Surf, 3655 28th St. SE.

Assistant manager Jody Hoffman said she was skating at the park when the amiable grunge musician came in.

"(Ament) had a really sweet deck, and I complimented him on it," Hoffman said. "He seemed pretty cool. ... I guess he offered to get one of the guys who works here backstage passes. But unfortunately (the employee) couldn't use them. (Ament) hung out in the bowl with his homeboys."

-- -- --


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RE: Jeff and the Missoula Skatepark

Skateboarders turn out to learn what's next for $500,000 facility
By ROB CHANEY of the Missoulian

One of those older guys who remembered seeing a picture of himself in the Missoulian doing a move on one of the UM brick banks was Jeff Ament, bass player for Pearl Jam. His band has contributed $50,000 to help make Missoula's public skate park a reality.

"This may be 20 years too late for me, but I'll still ride it," said Ament, who was wearing a T-shirt with the logo of the Del Rey Marina Skatepark that closed in 1982. "This has some of the elements of my favorite parks. Grindline has built about 40 of them, and I've skated 30 of them. If this is what gets built, it's going to be pretty cool."


The idea that something needed to be built crystallized in 2001, when a bunch of friends gathered materials and built a set of ramps and rails under the south end of the Higgins Avenue Bridge. Missoula Parks and Recreation Department Director Donna Gaukler said that site was soon ordered removed, but it proved to her the widespread interest in building some kind of public facility.

Then Pearl Jam returned for a Missoula show in 2003, and its Vitalogy Health Foundation made its donation. Skaters formed the Missoula Skatepark Association and teamed up with the Missoula Redevelopment Agency. Other city government offices got on board, and the project soon had about $225,000 raised. It must still come up with about $250,000 to complete the deal.



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Vol.   16     No.   28
Issue Date 6/23/2005

The skater way
by John S. Adams

When Missoula’s skaters decided they wanted a first-class skatepark, they enlisted designers Grindline Skateparks of Seattle to come up with the above design. The Missoula Skatepark Association needs another $225,000 to break ground on the $500,000 project. Leading the charge on public/private partnerships
What does it take to get a public works project completed in this town?

As the population of Missoula grows, and municipal budgets fail to grow accordingly, agencies like Missoula Parks and Recreation are relying more heavily on the private sector to fund new projects. Case in point: the proposed aquatics center project is facing a $1.8 million shortfall. Now project supporters are calling on the public to help make up the difference.

In a climate where public/private partnerships seem to be the only way to get large public works projects off the ground, the Missoula Skatepark Association is writing the manual on how to get things done.

Imagine a day when “skater moms” outnumber “soccer moms.” Try to picture caravans of parents in Subaru Outbacks and Volkswagen Jettas dropping youngsters off at the park with skateboards rather than baseball mitts in hand. Think of a place where athletes of all ages practice their sport together in harmony, and where shouts of “sick” and “bad” are complimentary words of encouragement?

That’s just part of the vision for Missoula’s future skatepark at McCormick Park, and it’s soon to become a reality thanks in large part to the efforts of the Missoula Skatepark Association (MSA).

With summer officially here, MSA is ramping up its fund-raising efforts in hopes of breaking ground on the $500,000 concrete skatepark this fall. To get there, MSA is using every tool available to raise the additional $225,000 needed to break ground.

“Missoula recognizes the need for a skatepark in this community. The biggest challenge now will be getting the rest of the money together,” says MSA president Chris Bacon.

The project is well on its way, thanks to unprecedented cooperation and enthusiasm on behalf of skaters, city Parks and Recreation officials, the Missoula Redevelopment Agency and private businesses. Add to that a small army of organized and energized volunteers, high-profile grants and donations from celebrities and unique fund-raising efforts, and you have a recipe for success.

“[MSA] is one of the best groups I’ve ever worked with on any project in 20 years in being in the park and rec field,” said Donna Gaukler, director of Parks and Recreation.

Earlier this month the Tony Hawk Foundation donated $15,000 to the project, the second-highest grant the skateboarding legend’s charitable group awarded in its last round of grants.

Miki Vukovich, executive director of the Tony Hawk Foundation, said one of the reasons the foundation gave such a large sum to the Missoula skatepark project is the professionalism exhibited by MSA, the level of community involvement and the ambitious design of the park.

“[MSA has] accomplished a lot on their own,” Vukovich. “A lot of times, people who are just starting come to us and we help them get through some of the hurdles, but our grant process is something that comes in a little bit further down the road. These guys are way down the road. Certainly at this point the park is imminent. It’s just a matter of time before it’s built.”

According to Gaukler, her department began to realize the need for the park more than five years ago when a group of skaters, including MSA president Chris Bacon, built ramps beneath the Higgins Ave. bridge. When skaters were told they weren’t allowed to skate there, the ramps were removed and Gaukler approached Bacon about the possibility of a free public skatepark.

The Missoula Skatepark Association was formed and the group began working with city officials to come up with a plan and design for the park.

Bacon and his band of skaters formed a fund-raising committee in 2003, and by the end of the year the project had $150,000 in the bank, thanks to a $100,000 commitment from the Missoula Redevelopment Agency and a $50,000 donation from the rock band Pearl Jam, whose bassist Jeff Ament lives in Missoula.

Opportunities to attract further MSA support through fund raising seem to be inexhaustible. Volunteers collect aluminum cans to redeem for cash, and a mini ramp at Edge of the World (formerly Board of Missoula) continues to draw skaters and donations. Other fund-raising tactics include skateboarding and snowboarding video premiers at Crystal Theatre (which have garnered as much as $1,000) and T-shirt sales. In 2004, MSA partnered with the Big Sky Brewing Company as a beneficiary, along with the Clark Fork’s Brennan’s Wave project, of a portion of beer and ticket sales for the brewery’s summer concert series.

This summer, the group is the only beneficiary of the five-show concert series at the Big Sky Amphitheater. According to Big Sky founder and president Neal Leathers, MSA could net an estimated $20,000 to $40,000 over the course of the summer.

“The keys to making [the concert series] work out here is really having groups that can bring in large numbers of volunteers,” says Leathers.

Additionally, American Expedition Vehicles of Missoula has put up a $72,000 Jeep Wrangler with a 570 HEMI engine to be raffled off for the skatepark. MSA plans to sell 2,000 tickets at $100 a piece. If all the tickets are sold, the raffle will net the group another $128,000. Coupled with the $15,000 grant from the Hawk Foundation and an additional $75,000 from MRA, 2005 is shaping up to be a banner year for the skatepark.

“I’m really impressed with their professionalism, commitment and creative ideas for fund raising,” says Tod Gass, project coordinator for MRA. “These guys are putting in a lot of volunteer hours.”

Swimmers take note...


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Skateboarding enthusiasts pass the halfway point in fundraising for park
By JOE NICKELL of the Missoulian

Jeff Ament carves past fellow Missoula Skatepark Association board members Chris Bacon and Ross Peterson, right, outside Missoula on Thursday afternoon. The Missoula Skatepark Association is raising funds to build a public skatepark at McCormick Park.
Photo by LINDA THOMPSON/Missoulian

They're the guys showing off the shiny big rig every Thursday in Caras Park at Downtown ToNight. They're the smiling parking attendants and beer slingers at the Big Sky Brewing Co. concerts. It seems like, these days, the Missoula Skatepark Association is everywhere.

Everywhere, that is, except in McCormick Park.

"It is kind of ironic that we're so far along in this process, but we still can't even point to a hole in the ground and say, 'There it is,' " says Ross Peterson, one of the founders of the Missoula Skatepark Association, which together with Missoula's Parks and Recreation Department plans to build a top-notch skateboard park on the banks of the Clark Fork River.

"A lot of people still ask, 'Is this gonna happen?' " adds Peterson. "I think there's still a hesitation that we are maybe still in the hope phase. We're a long way past that, but unfortunately we can't show it."

In actuality, Peterson and his army of volunteers are perched on the brink of having something tangible to show for their efforts. Although they won't be pouring concrete soon, they will begin - "any day now" - piling up dirt at the site in McCormick Park.

"There's a remote but real possibility that if we dig down and then there was a flood, the skatepark could literally float away," says Peterson with a laugh. "So we have to build up first, let the dirt settle and then dig into that."

It seems somehow fitting that the long buildup to the park will initially culminate in more buildup. Half a decade in the making, the as-yet-unnamed Missoula skatepark has seemed like a great idea whose time has come, and keeps on coming.

Other skatepark projects around the state, such as the one that opened last month in Anaconda, have gone from concept to completion in the same span of time that it's taken the Missoula Skatepark Association and Missoula Parks and Recreation to get their project to this stage of the game.

But that's just the way things happen in Missoula, according to most people familiar with the project. Especially when a major new facility such as this is targeted for a choice downtown site like McCormick Park, navigating the shifting currents of local politics, neighborhood concerns and fundraising can take a long time.

In fact, many in the local community say that Peterson and his fellow organizers have shown more savvy and energy than past community project groups that boasted more experienced organizers.

"I've been in Parks and Recreation for about 20 years, and these guys have set the example for grass-roots organizing, where citizens take leadership roles and make something happen without trying to force the political angles," enthuses Donna Gaukler, director of Missoula Parks and Recreation.

Another irony of the skatepark project is that the good will it has generated was initially fueled by some bad blood.

It all started in 2000, when Peterson and several skateboarding friends, including Chris Bacon, set up a few ramps underneath the Higgins Avenue Bridge, near Caras Park. "We were told we couldn't be there," recalls Peterson, "and our response was, well, where are we supposed to be?"

Peterson and Bacon decided then to spearhead an effort to create a place for local skateboarders. They scheduled a meeting with Gaukler, who recalls being impressed by the vision of the pair.

"Our very first meeting was just so positive," she says. "Of course, with any group, you don't know how hard they're going to work, but I definitely had an immediate good first impression."

Peterson and Bacon, who were then both in their mid-20s, didn't have any prior experience organizing community projects or fundraising. In retrospect, that might have been a blessing in disguise.

"I think I had an idea there would be a lot of work involved, but not nearly as much or as detailed as has actually been the case," says Bacon, who is now 29.

So it helped when, in late 2002, their fledgling nonprofit received a commitment of $50,000 from Jeff Ament, a local resident, skateboarding enthusiast and the bassist with the rock band Pearl Jam.

That donation was followed up in 2003 by a $100,000 commitment from the Missoula Redevelopment Agency. From there, the fundraising snowballed: $5,000 from the Appleseed Foundation, a $15,000 grant from the Tony Hawk Foundation and $14,000 from last summer's Big Sky Brewing Amphitheater concerts, where Skatepark Association volunteers serve beer, collect parking fees, and handle several of the other operational functions.

At this past week's concert by Widespread Panic, the group raised just shy of $7,000. If all goes as expected this summer, Peterson says he hopes to raise $30,000 to $50,000 from the four remaining Big Sky Brewing concerts alone.

Stack it all together with the numerous private donations and smaller fundraisers the group has organized, and the Missoula Skatepark Association has accumulated a $265,000 stash of funds for the project.

And the group still has plenty of tricks up its sleeve in its effort to reach its goal of $460,000. In fact, if all of the current and upcoming fundraisers are successful, the skateboarders could find themselves with more money than they know what to do with.

"If everything came through, we could build another park," says Peterson. "We just went after everything we could think of, hoping each one pays off."

Those fundraisers range from the sale of $1 "Skate Rocks," which are similar in concept to the Muscular Dystrophy Association's paper shamrocks, to a raffle of that fancy big rig that's been on display at Downtown ToNight events: a one-of-a-kind, customized AEV570 Hemi Jeep Wrangler, tricked out by Missoula-based American Expedition Vehicles.

With 2,000 raffle tickets available at $100 apiece, the Missoula Skatepark Association expects to raise between $130,000 and $140,000 from the raffle after expenses.

Next fall, the Missoula Skatepark Association will present an art auction, featuring skateboard decks custom painted by numerous artists from around the region and the nation. And the group is also selling engraved bricks, to be incorporated into one of the skatepark's most unusual features, a long brick bank that re-creates a feature that once existed on the University of Montana campus.

So, while there's still a couple hundred thousand dollars to raise, Peterson and Bacon both feel like the goal is well within reach.

"I feel real confident about our fundraising efforts," says Bacon. "I imagine there'll be speed bumps still to come, but I think we're over the major hump at this point."

Peterson is even more bold in his vision of where the project is, and where it's going.

"For sure there'll be something to skate in McCormick Park next summer," predicts Peterson. "Absolutely."

Ament says it's the mix of confidence and patience consistently displayed by Peterson and Bacon that has made the Missoula skatepark a near-term probability.

"Their commitment to every aspect of the project is pretty mind-blowing," says Ament. "The amount of time they volunteer and their commitment to building a lasting imprint of a skatepark for Missoula is pretty cool ... If nobody buys the naming rights to the park, they should call it Peterson Bacon Skatepark."

Peterson shrugs off such praise.

"We've all just fallen in love with this community," says Peterson. "Yes, we love to skateboard, but even more than that, we love Missoula. (The skatepark) was a need we saw, and we jumped into it headlong."

How will he feel once the skatepark is completed?

"I don't even know," Peterson says. "I guess I've almost forgotten what it's like to have free time."

Chances are, though, when that time comes, you'll know where to find him.


You can help

The Missoula Skatepark Association is still soliciting a range of in-kind and cash donations in an effort to raise the final $200,000 it needs to build a skatepark in McCormick Park. See the group's Web site at for details.

-- Edited by Sarah at 10:31, 2005-07-02

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