John Emmons, second from right, started an online petition in 2017 to get a new skate park built in South Portland. With Emmons are, from left, Owen Russell, Nash Olsen, Emmet Russell, Kipp Gill, Tuck Gora, Jack Smart and Gus Whited. FILE

SOUTH PORTLAND — City officials have narrowed down the list of proposed locations for a city skate park.

The five locations under consideration include 35 Southeast Road, 22 Elizabeth Taylor Lane, Anthoine Creek Park, the High School Park and the Cash Corner Fire Station. Brad Siedlecki, owner of Pillar Design Studios, which was chosen to design the park, said at an Oct. 2 meeting that some locations like 35 Southeast Road and 22 Elizabeth Taylor Lane, will likely cost more because a lot of trees must be removed.

Residents at the meeting agreed that Anthoine Creek Park was a good choice because it was near the police station, and the High School Park was also a good because of its central location near the schools.

Legere Park on Waterman Drive, which scored highest in the committee’s evaluation, was eliminated early on in the process due to strong neighborhood opposition. Mahoney Middle School was also ruled out because the school didn’t want the skate park on their property.

The initial cost to hire the firm will be $40,000, Recreation Operations Manager Anthony Johnson said. Funding will be provided by a $15,000 Community Development Block grant and by using $25,000 in capital improvement funds.

The average cost of concept designs provided by Pillar Design estimate construction costs between $250,000 and $500,000, depending on the park’s size and materials used.

The city isn’t sure how it will raise funds, but Johnson said some money could come from a capital improvement request next year. Councilor Kate Lewis said more money could come through fundraising and be included in the spring 2020 budget.

Susan Norton of Standish, a former South Portland resident, said her son John was an avid skateboarder and had wanted a skatepark growing up. While he died in 2017 at the age of 27, Norton said she continues advocating for skate parks, because her son would have done the same.

“The parks that do well are the ones most visible, they are beautiful pieces of architecture,” she said. “I hate to see something hidden near the woods somewhere. People bring their families there. It’s used by the whole community.”

Pillar Studios will come to the city during the second week of October and look at the sites under consideration, compile information and present what they believe to be the best options. From there, Johnson said, a proposed site will be sent to council at an undermined date.

The goal is to have the park open by the summer of 2020, at the same time skateboarding will be in the Summer Olympics for the first time.

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