Skaters ramp up work on skate park
Published 8:56 pm, Tuesday, August 8, 2017
NEW MILFORD — Some 15 skaters were in the closed Young’s Field skate park on Thursday afternoon, but they weren’t wielding skateboards. Instead, they toted drills, sledgehammers and pickaxes.
The park has been closed since June 1, when town officials padlocked it after learning skaters made unauthorized modifications over the last two years, including the addition of concrete ramps and quarter-pipes. It was a liability concern, town officials said.
Officials at the time said the park, which had never closed for more than a day since it opened in 2007, would be locked until the additions were removed.
On Thursday, the park was reopened and Dave Peterson, a longtime park builder who owns Rampage Skate Shop in Bridgeport, showed up with a truck full of tools and a crew of local skaters who planned to work until sunset on approved improvements.
Sweaty and busy, the teens and 20-somethings are working for free, 23-year-old Tristan Cornelis said, adding several took time off from work to be there.
“I couldn’t picture it actually happening until being here today and seeing it,” said Cornelis, who organized the project.
Funds for the skate park improvements were raised in just five days in June after skaters grew weary of driving to nearby towns to skate.
“I was pretty disappointed when it closed,” said Dan Leary, 23, who skated at the park nearly every day since it opened.
“I’ll definitely be here when it reopens,” he said. “I won’t have to go to Bristol, Stamford, Newtown. I’ve been all over the place.”
Within days of being locked out, the group had raised more than $5,000 online and enlisted Peters to help make the needed improvements to the park.
Money in hand, Peterson and skaters presented plans and a budget to the Parks and Recreation Department last month. The Town Council approved Cornelis’ contribution on Monday and provided $4,735 to help revamp the park.
“It’s a good thing,” said Mayor David Gronbach.
Town Council members applauded the skaters.“Kudos to Tristan and those guys for raising the money,” Town Councilman Pete Bass said.
The skaters plan to work six-hour days for three weeks doing the demolition work preparing for Peterson to pour and shape three trucks full of new concrete.
“Us getting to work? That was never the question. We were ready,” Cornelis said. “It was painful for all of us to answer questions about the skate park for two months.”
The park likely will open in mid-September, Peterson said.
Although the town said the homemade additions would be “jack-hammered away,” the homemade ramps will stay.
“We’re putting the layer on top, so it would just be dead space if we got rid of them,” Cornelis said. “Our stuff will always, kind of, be there.”
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