Skatepark committee to vote Sept. 19 on downsizing proposal

BRATTLEBORO — The Brattleboro Area Skatepark Is Coming (BASIC) advisory committee will vote on whether to downsize plans for a town skateboard park at a special Sept. 19 meeting.

Over the past four years, the committee has raised funds and developed designs for a skatepark at the Crowell Lot on Western Avenue. Despite the group's efforts, it fell about $250,000 shy of its goal.

Additionally, the two-year permit issued to BASIC by the Development Review Board expired Aug. 15.

At a Sept. 5 meeting, BASIC members discussed the best path forward.

Committee chair Jeff Clark reminded the other members that the committee has raised about $40,000 toward constructing the park.

This committee has gone farther toward constructing a skate park than any other group, said Clark.

“We're the underdogs, that's OK,” he said.

Committee members contacted members of the Selectboard to poll their feelings on reducing the size of the skate park and adjusting the fundraising goal. The feedback received from the board was mostly positive, reported committee members.

The committee wanted to also poll the Town School board, which owns the Crowell Lot, before voting on downsizing the park.

Recreations & Parks Director Carol Lolatte, who serves as the committee's liaison to the town, reminded BASIC that if it voted to reduce the skate park's size, then the project would require re-acceptance by the Selectboard and Town School board.

Lolatte suggested the committee decide whether to reduce the size of the skate park. If members voted yes, then the committee needed to write a formal request and appear before the Selectboard.

Lolatte reported that she spoke with design and engineering firm Stantec about the budget and the cost for drafting new plans for a smaller footprint.

A Stantec representative told Lolatte that reducing the skatepark's size was possible, but would carry a $150,000 construction budget. The firm, which normally charges 8 percent of a project's budget for planning, offered to reduce drafting costs to $6,000.

A positive aspect of a park with a smaller footprint could be that the Crowell Lot's existing play structure could stay put. That would save the project about $30,000, said Lolatte.

Lolatte also reported that the Vermont Land Trust withdrew its $25,000 pledge for the project.

Building the skate park has not progressed as quickly as the Land Trust would like, she said. Also, other community projects have come forward that better match the Land Trust's mission.

BASIC had a five-year window with funders within which to start construction.

“We're doing OK,” said Clark. “There's things [funding] out there for us.”

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