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Celebrating a milestone

On fourth annual Go Skateboarding Day, skatepark supporters look forward to the end of a long process

BRATTLEBORO—A sunny afternoon, a hot patch of asphalt, and the Ramones blasting from a boom box on a nearby picnic table.

This was the scene for the first day of summer last Friday for the fourth annual Brattleboro Go Skateboarding Day at the Crowell Lot.

It was a day where about two dozen local riders, ranging in age from pre-teen to early 30s, transformed the basketball court into a skatepark – complete with rails, ramps, and boxes.

Go Skateboarding Day, which started 10 years ago in Southern California and is held on June 21 each year, has become a day of solidarity among skateboarders around the world.

It’s a day to have fun, but it’s also a day to raise awareness about the sport and attract new riders, said Spencer Crispe, a local attorney and longtime skateboarder.

“We’re trying to get more people into skateboarding,” said Crispe. “Every year we do this, we see a few more new faces.”

This was also a celebration for Crispe and the other members of Brattleboro Area Skatepark Is Coming (BASIC), the group behind plans to build a skatepark at the Crowell Lot.

Earlier this year, the Selectboard and the town School Board both approved the design for the proposed 11,000 square foot skatepark. The School Board owns the Crowell Lot.

The project has detractors, with numerous “Re-Site the Skatepark” signs still posted on the lawns of homes near the Crowell Lot. However, with the town boards giving their approval, Crispe said that stage of the process is done.

The skatepark, designed by Mike McIntyre of ASD/Stantec, a California architectural firm specializing in what it calls “action sports environments,” is smaller than originally planned, and is designed to have a minimal impact on the trees in the Crowell Lot.

A site visit last month by the town Tree Committee determined that at least two of the Crowell Lot’s trees will have to be removed.

The Brattleboro Recreation & Parks Department also supports the skatepark, but despite all the town support, no town money will be used to build it.

Crispe said BASIC has raised about $100,000 so far. Based on initial design estimates, the group may need at least another $200,000 to built the skatepark.

BASIC President Marty Vallender said the group has overcome every obstacle so far.

“Getting the town’s approval for the design was a big step,” he said, “but now we have the last obstacle: raising money. The final budget numbers for building the park haven’t come in yet, but once they do, we’ll have a better idea of how much more we need.”

“We’re not going to stop,” said Crispe. “We have the keep the momentum going and stay committed to building this skatepark.”

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Originally published in The Commons issue #209 (Wednesday, June 26, 2013).

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