Skate away at new park: Borough approves skateboard park for all

Skateboarder George Martin speaks regarding the proposed new skateboard park at Linden Park alongside skateboarder Chris Heun at the Board of Mayor and Burgess meeting on July 5 at Town Hall. Andreas Yilma Citizen’s News

By Andreas Yilma Citizen’s News

NAUGATUCK — The borough plans to develop a skateboard park for children and adults.

The Board of Mayor and Burgesses approved at its July 5 meeting to waive a bid and enter into a construction contract with Rampage LLC of Bridgeport to construct a roughly 100-by-150 square-foot skateboard park at Linden Park. The cost is not to exceed $250,000, according to the board.

Funds for the skateboard park were approved from last year’s surplus, Controller Allyson Bruce said.

Borough residents and skateboarders Chris Heun and George Martin, who both have been skating for roughly 30 years, were asked by Rampage owner Dave Peterson for the two skaters to design the park. The skate park would include a bowl, a staircase, rails, and sections for beginners and experts, Heun said.

Parks and Recreation officials initially proposed to install a concrete skate park on Crown Street next to Hop Brook Elementary School. The proposed location has an existing playground but was then challenged. Residences informed borough officials about concerns for that location and there were a large number of objections for the location from the condominium association and people living in the area.

The borough originally had a skate park at Linden Park but removed it several years ago on the recommendation of its insurance company. The park was outdated, falling apart and missing pieces. It was built in 2002 with a $70,000 state grant as part of a $1 million project to upgrade Linden Park. Borough officials said people were constantly moving pieces of the old skate park around, such as the ramps, and that caused damage to occur more quickly.

“I know it leaves it a sour taste in a lot of the people’s mouths about the skate park because the first one was paid for with a lot of money and it kind of fell apart. It wasn’t worth what it was paid for in the end,” Martin said. “To have it done with concrete and have it done by the right people and have a design where it actually flows and kids enjoy it and it brings people here from other towns and other states even, it’s a big thing you know.”

Burgess Rocky Vitale asked if certain events would be organized such as competitions.

Martin said there could be fundraisers at the skate park as well.

“People say there’s not enough for people to do around here,” Vitale said. “This is just one more thing for people to do. It’s a great idea.”

“In the skateboarding world, there would be different companies that say they make boards or they make wheels,” Heun said “They’ll go on tours to different parts across the country and if you’re park is a destination; they’re going to come here.”

N. Warren ‘Pete’ Hess. Archive

The borough waiving the bidding process for the construction was questioned.

Board of Finance Chairman Dan Sheridan said he had a problem with waiving the bid and thought it was bad practice.

“I don’t have problems generally with bids that are in the $10,000 range but a quarter-million dollars is a lot of money and I think we need to solicit formal bids, competitive bids and do it correctly,” Sheridan said.

Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess said he generally agrees with Sheridan but called this proposal a unique development.

“To me this is a unique situation but I do understand all of Dan’s comments and I would generally agree with them but in my mind this is a unique situation and we’re trying to get exactly what we want and we’re using essentially the Rampage team as consultants to help design a project that meets the needs and the desires of our skateboarders,” Hess said.

Burgess Mike Bronko, who voted against the waiving of the bid, said he definitely was still in favor of the project.

“Even though it is a unique project, I am not in favor of waiving the bid process,” Bronko said.

Other burgesses agreed with the Hess on the reason to waive the bids.

Burgess Charles P. Marenghi said not going out to bid is out of the norm but there is a positive outlook for the local skateboard company.

Burgess Dorothy Neth-Kunin said she believes officials are on the right path even though they are waiving the bid.

“If you can get a half a dozen bids in, at the end of the day, you might get a bid that low ball everything and not even be good quality,” Neth-Kunin said.

Public Works Director Jim Stewart said officials need to factor in a cost of additional design services if they go out to bid.

“In my mind, one of the benefits is that this company has great reviews, great reputation, everyone loves them,” Hess said. “They’re the one we want to win the bid.”

“A lot of these kids, I know as a teacher, I know they skateboard. Having a safe, regulated area like this is the way to go and it fortifies the legitimacy of the concept of skateboarding as a real sport,” Marenghi said. “It keeps kids active and out there. I do have concerns about the waiving.”