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November 18, 2002

Hopes up for skatepark

By Joe Keo

Bristol Eastern High School sophomore Kevin Rushlow said he really wants the city to build a skatepark.

He said he’s tired of being “hassled by police” while skateboarding.

But where is he or the hundreds of other young skateboarders supposed to go?

“It’s pretty dumb because they kick us out of places that we skate,” said John Munn, another Eastern sophomore.

“We skate there because we don’t have any where else to skate,” he said.

Perhaps, though, that will change soon.

The city recently discovered an extra $145,000 that Mayor Frank Nicastro and some other city leaders are hoping to use to build the proposed skatepark, which was put on hold this fall when money ran short.

Nicastro said the project should move ahead now.

“The children of Bristol deserve no less,” he said. “I have said all along that we should have one [skatepark].”

But some remain hesitant.

Chris Ziogas, a Board of Finance member, said at a recent meeting that perhaps the additional money should be used to help cover a cost overrun on the proposed youth and family conference center on High Street.

To complete that project, the city will have to pony up about $350,000 more than it anticipated.

The finance board, which meets Nov. 26 at City Hall, will consider both ideas and perhaps make a decision about the skatepark’s future.

Nicastro said he’s feeling confident. He said he believes the project will gain the panel’s approval next week.

The mayor has been a strong supporter of the $125,000 skatepark project and has fought and pushed for it many times when the plan was down in the dumps.

Preparation is underway for the skatepark if it’s given a thumbs up by the nine-person finance board. The mayor is one of the nine people on the panel.

Park officials are looking at possible locations for the park.

Some possibilities include putting it off Lake Avenue or on Chippens Hill or Page Park.

Officials haven’t decided whether they will charge for use of the skatepark if it is built next year.

Nicastro said the issue of a fee for the use of the park hasn’t yet been figured out yet.

But, he said, “if we had a fee, it would be minimal, minimal.”

The skatepark’s hours are another issue that officials have to consider.

One thing’s for sure, there won’t be any kids skating around at 1 a.m. there.

If the park is built next spring, as the mayor and park commissioners hope, there will no doubt remain an excess mass of bikers, skateboarders and bladers riding around the town. Former Mayor William Stortz said the city should consider a second skatepark since not everyone will be close by if only one is put up.

With transportation and traffic problems to consider, Stortz said, a second park would be necessary to balance the accessibility of the parks to the city’s youth. He said it “might be safer.”

Putting in a second skatepark would double the cost of the project and Nicastro said that’s not in the cards now. He said it would be better to get one and then consider whether to build another one.

So if all things go well at next week’s finance board session, Bristol’s young people can look forward to having their own skatepark by next summer.

Want your voice to count? The finance board meeting is open to the public. It is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 26  in the City Council chambers on the first floor of City Hall. The meetings rarely last more than 90 minutes.

 

 

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