OLD ORCHARD BEACH – Members of a skate park planning committee discussed their options Wednesday night after town councilors said they were reluctant to set aside additional funds for a new park.

In the past two years, the town has funded a total of $30,000 in the recreation department’s capital improvement budget for a new skate park, Town Manager Jack Turcotte said. Faced with potential municipal staffing cuts and a property tax increase, he said, the council was against putting $15,000 more toward the skate park in the budget for the fiscal year starting July 1.

Recreation Department Director Jason Webber had estimated a new skate park would cost $70,000 to $100,000. In addition to town funding, the committee has received a $5,000 grant from the Tony Hawk Foundation and raised more than $1,000.

The council will make a final decision on additional funding for the park by the end of June, Turcotte said.

Eric Santos, a skateboarder involved in planning the new park, said he understands the council’s concerns.

The Old Orchard Beach High School senior said that thus far, “they’ve been very generous.”

Santos said about 15 people attended the meeting and said they support moving forward with funds already secured. He said $36,000 could pay for construction of a bowl — a pool-like structure with curved walls that is common in skate parks.

The board of directors for the recreation park will likely make a final decision at their next meeting, Santos said. From there, a designer will be hired and a location designated, Santos said. The committee currently favors a wooded area near The Ballpark, but the designer will help the committee identify a site, he said.

Skateboarders used to have a park on E. Emerson Cummings Boulevard. It was dismantled, partly to make room for a new police station, but also because the donated materials with which it was built did not withstand Maine’s harsh weather.

The recreation department, along with young town residents, banded together over a year ago to make plans for a more permanent skate park.

If they build what they can with the funds they already have, the group can raise more money to expand the park, Santos said.

“If we can get the bowl built, we can host skate jams, draw pro skaters in and get companies to host events. That will allow us to raise the money we need,” he said.

 

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:

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