SOUTH PORTLAND — With a location approved, the committee working to bring a skate park to South Portland can now move on to the design and fundraising stage.

The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the nearly 2-acre High School Park site, located at the corner of Nelson and Mountain View roads, which was recommended by the ad hoc Skate Park Committee.

Anthony Johnson, the city’s recreation operations manager, said in an interview last month that the spot was chosen because of its high visibility, easy access, and the fact that there’s plenty of parking at the nearby Community Center and high school.

A design meeting will be held at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 4, at the Community Center, where consultant Pillar Design Studies of Arizona will present three concepts for public input.

Ken Kunin, superintendent of the South Portland schools, said in an email to City Manager Scott Morelli that he has no objection to siting the skate park so close to the high school. However, he said, “we do, of course, have a great interest in the design and how it blends in with the park and the high school (overall).”

“As a very interested abutter, we think a design that maintains the greenery and keeps it looking park-like is key. The skate park in Bar Harbor is a good example of one that’s designed to blend into the site to the maximum extent possible.”

Johnson estimates it will cost between $350,000 and $450,000 to build an 8,000- to 10,000-square-foot facility and hopes a groundbreaking can be held sometime next summer. Johnson said how quickly the city moves forward will depend on how much money can be raised. Donors can contact him at 767-7650 or [email protected].

The design meeting will give the public a chance to comment on the proposals and to “say what they like or don’t like and what elements they want to see included,” said Johnson, and get a “real vision” of what’s possible.

“What we know we want is to offer mixed skating options,” including for bike stunts, he said.

When designing a skate park, Brad Siedlecki, owner of Pillar Design Studios, said it should be customized to “the wants and needs of its community. We listen to the goals of the city, what the local skateboarders and bikers want to ride and address any concerns that a non-user may have.”

Siedlecki said it’s always his goal to fit the design to the site “while minimizing the disturbance to any existing vegetation and adjacent residential areas.  We want to create a piece of art that the community can be proud of and ultimately create a park (where) you can skate.”

He said a good skatepark provides “something for every level of experience, areas where beginners can learn the basics while providing intermediate and advanced areas to keep (riders) progressing.  You want people to keep coming back and not getting bored.”

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