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skateboarding is not a crime

Skatepark to be built in Essex Junction
By MATT RYAN, Free Press Staff Writer

ESSEX JUNCTION Four years ago, Patrick Carton of Essex Junction wrote a persuasive essay for his fifth-grade class at Thomas Fleming School. He took his essay, which argued for the construction of a skate park in the village, to the parks and recreation director.
"I think I said that it was a really healthy activity, and that it was exercise for kids that didn't really do normal sports," Carton said.
After years of persuading town, village and school officials, Carton's skate park has been approved for construction, just before his first year at Essex High School. The outdoor park, to be built on two unused tennis courts at Maple Street Park, will have supervised hours and will be open to skateboarders, in- line skaters and BMX bikers.
Fences and pavement will be added in September. Pending funding, ramps and other structures will be added in the spring, when the park is scheduled to open.
"We had to go through a lot of hoops," said Joe Carton, Patrick's father. "One of the hang-ups was the village and town merger."
Joe, Patrick and Patrick's mother, Bonnie, founded * a committee, Skate the J, to push fora skate park. During the town/village merger vote last year, they changed the committee name to the Essex Skate Park Committee, to sound more inclusive.
Jan Riordan, the former president of Sports and Fitness Edge in Essex, joined the committee — made up of several parents and their skateboarding children —this year to lead fund raising. Riordan said her son and other Essex youths go to Burlington to skate. "We've done bake sales and auctions, but now it's at the point where it needs some significant dollars," Riordan said. Construction will cost about $80,000, she said. Riordan said she sold raffle tickets at this year's Block Party. "I could not believe the amount of people that were appreciative to me for raising this money," Riordan said. She said she hopes businesses will support the park. About $35,000 has been raised, said Brad Luck, the interim director for the Essex Junction Parks and Recreation Department. The department pledged $25,000 to the project, and Essex pledged $7,000, Luck said. "Since the beginning, the effort to build a skate park has been a grass-roots effort involving the entire community," Luck said. Luck said the department, which has supported tennis and basketball courts,'views skateboarding as a valuable recreational activity. "Skateboarding has been one of the fastest-growing sports in the U.S., and there's no indication it's going to trail off anytime soon," Luck said. "It's our responsibility to support new things."

08.03.07 >>

Ramps and rails at Maple Street Park
Junction takes first steps to build skatepark
By JASON STARK, The Essex Reporter

It's a groundbreaking of sorts at Maple Street Park for the Essex Junction skatepark.
Paving and fencing began last week to lay the foundation for the ramps and rails to follow. The planned opening of the skatepark – which is being designed with skateboarders, inline skaters and BMX bikers in mind – is this spring.
"It's truly a thrill to see the activity taking place now," said Essex Junction resident Jan Riordan who is part of the committee of local skaters, parents and town officials that has been working on the project since 2004.
Paving and fencing represent the first phase of installation – a $25,000 expense funded mostly by Essex Junction Recreation and Parks. The committee is hoping to raise another $50,000 in upcoming months to pay for installation of ramps and rails.
"We're excited to get the grounds ready in terms of asphalt and fencing but we still have -a significant amount of money to raise," said Essex Junction Recreation and Parks Interim Director Brad Luck. "We're really still a long ways off from seeing this happen."
Riordan is spearheading the ongoing fundraising efforts and expects to achieve a springtime opening. She said local businesses have responded well to sponsorship opportunities, and individuals have pitched in at a "Friends of the Skatepark" level.
"Given the response I've received, there's not any question in my mind we'll have $50,000-plus by spring," Riordan said. Plans for a June grand opening celebration as well as summer camps and clinics are in the works.
The skatepark committee grew from meetings of the Essex CHIPS coalition. Accomplishing the groundbreaking highlights the mission of CHIPS, Development and Outreach Coordinator Karin Hammer said. CHIPS stands for Communities Helping to Inspire People to Succeed.
"(Kids) are really making something a reality in collaboration with adults," Hammer said. "That's really terrific in terms of fostering community involvement."
Local . skateboarders are working on the design of the park with David Wood, owner of Talent Skatepark in South Burlington. The Essex Junction park will be the third municipally funded skatepark in Chittenden County – there are parks near the Lake Champlain waterfront in Burlington and Colchester. Wood's skatepark is a private facility.
Skateboarding's popularity is on the rise in Essex, Luck said, and demand for the skatepark is high.
"Some people view
(skateboarding) as an alternative sport but really it's mainstream,", he said. "Kids want, need and deserve a place to skate."

<< 10.04.07