Skaters get town OK for upgrade
NEW MILFORD — The skate park at Young’s Field will likely look different in coming months after Parks and Recreation commissioners this week heard from skaters whose impromptu concrete additions prompted the park’s closure this month.
At a parks meeting, the commission allowed skaters and a skate park builder from Bridgeport to plan and budget a park upgrade with their labor and more than $5,000 skaters raised online.
“The young men were very responsible, apologizing for the additions,” said Tom Beecher, Parks and Recreation Commission chairman. “We were all very appreciative that they took ownership of what they did and were proactive about it.”
The town closed the skate park over liability concerns, triggered largely by concrete modifications skaters had made over the last two years, including the addition of concrete ramps and quarter-pipes, Mayor David Gronbach has said.
Skaters were shocked at the closure. They had made the additions in daylight in “construction sessions” over the past two years. Before the park was shuttered, skaters said the town had never raised concerns over their work.
Monday night, the commission approved Dave Peterson, of Rampage Skate Shop in Bridgeport, to start planning an improved park, Beecher said. “No numbers were thrown around,” but the town will likely toss in money from its Parks and Recreation repair accounts in addition to any money raised by Tristan Cornelis, a local skater, and his friends.
“We apologized to the town for being so naive to do something like that,” said Cornelis, who was joined by some 15 skaters at the meeting. “We are more than happy to start over and go about this the right way.”
No deadlines were set, but Cornelis said he hopes a new and improved park is completed by the end of summer. Peterson, who is building a skate park in Greenwich this week, is a sought-after builder: He has built more than 180 parks, but has said this will be the first time he fixes community-built — albeit illegal — additions.
The skaters initially raised more than $5,000 in less than a week, but have hiked their goal to $10,000 after the commission’s approval. Ten skaters have already volunteered their labor.
“With more money, we can do more for the park,” Cornelis said.
The town filed police reports for insurance purposes, Mayor David Gronbach has said. But he doesn’t plan on pursuing criminal vandalism charges over the additions.
Gronbach attended the meeting and wrote on Facebook he was happy with the meeting’s outcome.
“We met with the skate park users that altered the park with concrete, as well as a designer/builder. They then appeared before Parks and Rec Commission and apologized for the changes they made, even with the best intentions,” he said.
“Depending on when the designs get submitted and approved, we expect an improved skate park soon,” Gronbach said.
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