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The site plan drawing for a proposed skatepark site at Living Memorial Park in Brattleboro. This site is behind the park’s pool.

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Skatepark prompts neighbors to weigh quality of life considerations

BRATTLEBORO—Many issues came to light during a contentious site tour of locations for a town skateboard park. Neighbors’ quality of life resonated with the Selectboard.

The board held a special Selectboard meeting Aug. 4 to view five locations recommended by a town committee charged with vetting properties suitable for constructing a 6,500-square-foot skatepark.

Members of the public also commented.

Heated discussions and a couple of yelling matches punctuated the tour.

“There’s quite a lot of controversy and quite a lot of acrimony,” said Selectboard Chair David Gartenstein, reflecting on conversations during the site visits. “It almost seemed like it would come to blows at one point.”

Residents in the neighborhood around Western Avenue and Union Hill have raised the issue of noise in previous discussions around siting a skatepark at the nearby Crowell Lot. These discussion dragged on for nearly three years, prompting the board to reopen the site evaluation process.

The issue of noise was voiced loud and clear Aug. 4 by residents of Brookside, a condominium community bordering Living Memorial Park.

Three recommended sites are at the park, Brattleboro’s main public recreational area.

Gartenstein said that the skatepark site selection committee considered many factors for vetting properties. Neighbors’ perception of how the park would affect their quality of life did not make the committee’s list.

The board intends to move the skatepark project along quickly, Gartenstein said. But he added that the board will also need to consider the quality-of-life issue.

Supporters of a town skatepark have pushed for the project for three years. Efforts to build a skatepark in Brattleboro have gone on for about a decade.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #267 (Wednesday, August 13, 2014). This story appeared on page A1.

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