Skaters take part in the the Skatepark Jam fundraising event in South Portland that drew a crowd of more than 100. Contributed / Sarah Long

South Portland’s ad hoc Skate Park Committee has been hard at work since August 2018 to fund the construction of a local skate park. Now, they’re within shouting distance of their fundraising goal.

As of Wednesday, the committee had raised $434,688 of the $500,000 needed for the planned 10,000-square-foot concrete skate park near the South Portland Community Center.

“I was a freshman in college at USM when it started,” said committee member Lucas Brown. “I was at the first meeting. It feels really amazing.”

Before it could begin raising money, the committee had to find the location – settling on a site off Evans Street right by the community center – and come up with a design. After beginning the fundraising campaign privately in 2020, the committee opened it up to the public at their Skatepark Fundraising Jam on Aug. 29.

“It feels pretty awesome, to be honest with you,” said Anthony Johnson, the city’s recreation operation manager and a South Portland committee member.

With slightly more than $65,000 to go, “if everyone kicked in the price of one cup of coffee, we’d exceed our goal,” said committee member Jeff Woodbury in an email.

The committee has the best interest of the entire community in mind, Brown said.

“I think a skate park is a great communal area,” he said.

From his experience at the Portland skate park, he said, he thinks the South Portland park will become “a hangout spot” and a place where “a lot of parents watch their children skate and make new friends.”

“There’s going to be plenty of park left for people to sit and still have their lunch or use the park,” said Johnson. “There’ll also be the opportunity for people to sit there and watch the skateboarders.”

Johnson also said that their intention was to keep it in the public eye, stationing it by the heavily trafficked community center.

“It’s an extremely visible site,” he said. “(People) are going to drive right by the park and see it.”

The Skatepark Jam Fundraising event was successful, he said, drawing over 100 people. The event featured mini ramps, raffles and a High Roller lobster food truck, which donated all proceeds back to the campaign.

Johnson estimated that they raised nearly $15,000.

“It was a really fun event,” said Johnson. “We raised a good chunk of money.”

While the committee believes that the skate park will benefit everybody, it’s especially exciting for skateboarders like Brown.

“It’s more than just going around on a piece of wood with four wheels on it,” he said. “I think my favorite thing about skating is the artistic expression and getting into ‘the flow zone’ … Flying through the air is great too.”

The committee is planning to hold more pop-up events in the near future. Supporters can donate to the project at www.4giving.com/donation/29AE and join the South Portland Skate Park Group on Facebook.

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