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Not-for-Profit, Award-Winning Community News and Views for Windham County, Vermont • Since 2006

Proposed skatepark trapped in legal limbo

Updated Sept. 21 with additional comments by Barry Adams.

BRATTLEBORO—The fate of a proposed skatepark to be built at the Crowell Lot, a town playground on Western Avenue, may be decided in a courtroom.

According to David Longsmith, president of Brattleboro Area Skatepark is Coming (BASIC), the Development Review Board’s (DRB) approval of the site plan for the proposed 12,000-square-foot concrete skate park is being appealed in Vermont Environmental Court.

The court confirmed that an appeal was filed on Sept. 13 by Barry L. Adams, of 64 Western Ave. It has been titled BASIC Construction Permit, Docket No. 133-9-11 Vtec.

Adams, part of a neighborhood group that has raised concerns about the project, has been a vocal critic of the skatepark.

“His suit was filed at the last possible moment of the appeal window,” said Longsmith last Thursday night at the Skatepark Advisory Committee meeting, which is an ad hoc town committee appointed by the Selectboard.

In a letter to the Brattleboro Reformer published on Sept. 15, Adams wrote that his “primary concern is the degradation of a green living space and the likely destruction of the majestic old growth trees in the park.” He wrote that he and his neighbors are also concerned about “noise levels, surrounding property values stagnating or falling, etc.”

Noise has been one of the main objections of neighbors who oppose putting the skate park at the Crowell Lot, which has been controlled by the town School Board since the Crowell family donated the land in the 1940s. Noise tests done by BASIC in July found noise from skateboarders was below 70 decibels, the maximum volume permitted under town ordinances.

“I have made very clear on iBrattleboro that noise is not an issue for me regarding the skatepark,” Adams wrote after this story went to press for the print edition of The Commons and was published online. “I am deaf.”

“My appeal is based on my concern over what I view as the destruction of the integrity of the park,” he emphasized.

After consulting with Town Manager Barbara Sondag, Longsmith said he was told not to make any comments on Adams’ appeal of the DRB decision.

“It’s now up to the School Board, the Selectboard, and the town attorney to decide how to proceed with the case,” said Longsmith.

In June 2010, the town School Board approved, pending some details on the lease, the transfer of control of a portion of the Crowell Lot to the town, and the Recreation and Parks Department for the construction of a skate park. That lease between set a deadline of five years to complete the project.

Construction costs are estimated at nearly $300,000. According to Longsmith, more than $40,000 has been pledged or donated so far, and BASIC has made no plans to curtail its fundraising.

“We’re in limbo now,” said Longsmith. “We don’t want to affect the case or give fuel to our opponents. But we still plan to continue fundraising.”

BASIC recently received a $5,000 grant from the Tony Hawk Foundation, and Longsmith said the group is in the running for a $25,000 matching grant from the state.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #119 (Wednesday, September 21, 2011).

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