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By Pierre Hall
As a community member and skate park advocate I find it hard to understand the need for two skate parks in such a small community, especially with an average of four percent of the population as active skateboarders. I have been working for almost four years now trying to create a skate park, not only for our small tri-town area, but as a model for the rest of Vermont to follow. Someone did beat us to the chase in Bondsville, where the town funded a concrete bowl for area skaters. Even with a long drive, it is well worth the leg cramps along the way to go and skate that park.
It is not worth the drive, on the other hand, to go get hassled at the now-over-six-year-old dilapidated wooden Burlington waterfront skate park. I urge members of the community to think about the project that is going to pull money away from an already under-funded public gathering space, desperately in need of change. Here are some of the ideas that the Children First board has been working on and are hoping to implement this summer at the Brooks Recreation Field.
Ideas for creating a dynamic educational space within and around the skate park:
• Create community gardens, which will be kept by local youth volunteers, and a local non-profit Children First Inc.
• Create an educational program based around the diverse wildlife in the area, including but not limited to wild leeks, dwarf ginseng, comfrey, Solomon's seal, and an array of wild animals, all within a 10 minute walk into the woods around the park. This past summer I had the opportunity to photograph a porcupine at close range and a raven's nest with five chicks.
• Network with the local vocational technical schools to create an educational experience in repairing concrete, making forms, and pouring concrete slabs.
I know the Mad River Valley to be a great place filled with concerned citizens, so let us make something truly grand instead of wasting resources on another public space that will inevitably rot and become a health hazard to the local youth and visiting skateboarders.
In 2004 I started doing research for a skate park project anywhere in the MRV. I looked into zoning laws for Waitsfield, Fayston and Warren. Seeing that skateboarding is a recreational activity, it only made sense to me that it should be in a recreation area. There is the Couples Field, which is private, there is the lot up by Kingsbury's and the old Northern Power building, also private, there are playing fields at GMVS and Harwood, but both are fully used and don't allow room for much expansion. And then there is the Brooks Recreation field in Warren. A piece of land donated to the town for recreation purposes.
Before Open Hearth was even a dream in The Valley, and I was at some of the early planning meetings pushing the skate park agenda, a group of youth and parents went to the town of Warren and got the town to repave the existing basketball court (currently in need of expansion and a new location) and allow the space to be used for skateboarding. I think everyone can remember the slew of wooden structures that were built and subsequently destroyed due to vandalism. We have solved that issue by building in concrete.
I am currently in California networking with one of the larger skateboard distribution companies worldwide, and in the process of requesting a grant to have the Warren Concrete Skate Park completed with hired professional help. I have corresponded with a Rhode Island-based concrete skate park contractor who has expressed interest in working on the project, if we can secure the proper funding.
I now have to pose a question to the community: Do you, as a resident of the Mad River Valley, want to see another wooden skate park built, that will eventually rot and be trashed, or would you like to see an existing community space enhanced by the construction of a concrete skate park, which will involve community gardening and environmental awareness?
Feel free to contact me:
Pierre Hall, Warren Skate Park coordinator
P.O. Box 385
Warren, VT 05674