Rochester families plan to open a new indoor skatepark

ROCHESTER — Even as Laura and Adam Kramer watched their 11-year-old son, Charlie, take up skateboarding, there was still a nagging question: Where can people skate in Rochester in the winter?

Rochester has a skate park near Silver Lake that gets busy in the summer – it’s where residents like pro skateboarder Alec Majerus learned to shred. But the city hasn’t had an indoor skate park for years.

That could soon change. The Kramers are teaming up with Laura’s brother and sister-in-law, Brad and Nina Webbles, to create a new indoor facility for skaters. Dubbed “the garden” – after a family joke about where to put a skate ramp – the indoor park could be open by the end of the year.

“We may have talked about it a few years ago and just toyed with the idea,” Laura Kramer said. “We just sort of always watched.”

Young Charlie Kramer has been skating for about three years, but he and other local skaters have to travel at least an hour to skate in an indoor park during the winter.

The Kramers, owners of Kramer Contracting in Rochester, monitor real estate development in the city and have found a prime location in the former Whiskey Bones Roadhouse site on the north side. They bought the site last month for $850,000, which includes an 8,000 square foot former bar.

The walls and floors are covered in graffiti and questionable messages, but the two couples plan to renovate the building over the next few months. If all goes well, the Garden could open in time for the Holidays.

The development comes just as Rochester and other communities across the state are looking to build more skate parks.

A Twin Cities-based skater advocacy group, City of Skate, is lobbying the legislature to create a statewide matching fund program for communities interested in skating facilities. The group lobbied for $15 million in a bail package this year, but lawmakers adjourned the legislative session without passing a bail bill.

Paul Forsline, executive director of City of Skate, said Rochester is one of the top communities skaters have in mind. Local officials are looking to update Silver Lake and the skate park over the next few years, and skaters hope to see the city invest in a regional skate park for BMX riders, inline skaters, scooter riders and more. Again.

“There’s always been a great skate scene in Rochester,” Forsline said.

More than 35 communities have contacted City of Skate in recent years for advice or support in building skate parks, and interest has only grown since skateboarding made its Olympic debut in 2020.

The Kramers and Webbles say they are generating a lot of interest in the community. Brad Webbles said the garden gets hundreds of hits a week on the website they created, while community members continue to approach the team with ideas.

“I met some people today, a couple of estate agents who said to me, ‘It’s you! We’re so thrilled!’ ” he said.

The garden team is working with local skaters to design the park, which will include more street skating facilities.

Laura Kramer will manage the park, which will also include a skate shop, cafe, offices for Kramer Contracting and a community gathering space. The garden could also add bowls and green railings outside for the warmer months.

It all depends on renovations being carried out over the next few months – and continued interest in the area.

“It’s shocking how the community has reacted,” Laura said.

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