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Skatepark proposal at a crossroads

BASIC to meet on Sept. 5 to discuss options for smaller, less costly proposal

BRATTLEBORO—Efforts to build a skatepark at the Crowell Lot on Western Avenue have stalled, and Brattleboro Area Skatepark is Coming (BASIC), the committee behind the proposal, is trying to come up with an alternative plan.

The two-year building permit issued by the town Development Review Board (DRB) expired Aug. 15.

This means that, even if the committee make no changes to the current 11,000-square-foot design, BASIC will have to apply for a new building permit.

This news came as BASIC continues to struggle to come up with funds to build the skatepark. After about four years, they have raised approximately $100,000, but the cost of the current park design is projected at $350,000.

No town funds are being used for the park.

Should BASIC scale back its plans and build a park between 4,000 and 7,000-square feet, they may be able to build it provided they raise another $50,000.

But before BASIC decides to spend up to $10,000 for design changes for a smaller park, it will need approval from the DRB, the town School Board (the owners of the Crowell Lot), and the Selectboard before going forward.

BASIC has a meeting scheduled for Sept. 5, at 6:30 p.m., at the Municipal Center, to discuss their options.

Fight renewed?

The expired permit and the stalled fundraising efforts have presented an opening to those who oppose siting the skatepark in the Crowell Lot.

“We think that maybe this will open up some creative thinking that might be a win-win for all,” said Andy Davis of Brattleboro. “I think everyone is looking at the project — its scope, cost, and location.”

BASIC board member Spencer Crispe disagrees that the latest developments represent a setback.

“I would say this is not even a temporary setback or anywhere close to a fatal blow,” he said. “We are just probably going to try to make the park smaller in size than originally envisioned. It will still be an awesome skatepark; we’re just potentially reducing the budget so as to get the project done and kids skating sooner.”

Barry Adams of Brattleboro, one of the original opponents to the Crowell Park site, said he believes “after all the town has suffered because of the lack of vision and thoughtful planning, any reconsideration will take a hard look back before moving forward.”

“I feel that the proponents of a skatepark deserve to see their work and commitment realized,” he added. “They were led to believe by the people they depended on to make it happen that it would be worth their time and effort over the years. However, I also believe that the Crowell Park was a default choice and that it remains a poor location.”

Adams called the skatepark “a project that deserves the best planning possible and the leadership to achieve it.”

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Originally published in The Commons issue #219 (Wednesday, September 4, 2013).

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