BRATTLEBORO -- The Selectboard has approved a design team to come up with a final plan for the long debated skatepark at Crowell Lot.
The 4-1 vote came after more than an hour of debate and discussion Tuesday night over the design, and the process of deciding on the Crowell Lot as the site of the proposed skatepark.
The board authorized ASD-Stantec of Boston to design the skatepark.
ASD-Stantec's $16,500 bid was the second lowest, but Parks and Recreation Director Carol Lolatte chose the firm because it had regional ties and had experience designing skateparks in the Northeast.
Skatepark Committee member Adam Hubbard said the design team will pick up where the skatepark committee left off in sketching out the basic design and location of the park.
After the designer is done, the town will have a more detailed plan on the ramps and features of the park.
And Hubbard said having a design will help the committee move the whole project forward.
"Once we have a professional design, with real vision, we will have something funders can buy into," Hubbard said. "And that's real exciting to us."
The board's decision to choose a designer came even as its members continued to debate, among themselves, whether the process was properly debated.
Selectboard member Dora Bouboulis said the skatepark debate has been acrimonious and the board forced the decision through without seeking input from the
She said the neighborhood was against the plan and people who are opposed to the park are afraid to speak out.
"This has been a comedy of errors," she said. "This is wrong. We need to back up. The public needs to have its say."
Selectboard member David Gartenstein said there was not a thorough site selection process and he suggested the public process be re-opened.
"I don't think the board ever made that decision in a public forum," Gartenstein said. "I don't agree with the notion that the decision was properly vetted publicly."
Back in March, Gartenstein called for more public input, but after his motion was voted down he said he resigned himself to moving forward.
Selectboard Chairman Dick DeGray said he supported the project.
And while the town officials were largely supportive, opponents continued to question the design decision.
Town meeting representative Andy Davis, who lives near Crowell Lot, asked the board not to approve the design. He said there should have been more input from neighborhood residents.
A number of other residents from the neighborhood asked the board not to approve the design.
Brattleboro resident John Wilmerding, who abuts the proposed site, asked the board about the trees in the park, and he requested that the town require an arborist study on how the final design will affect the trees in the park.
Wilmerding also asked for clarification on the town's role after the park was built.
Town Manager Barbara Sondag said the skatepark project is controlled and supported by the town.
All the fundraising and grants are being filtered through the town, Sondag said, and staff members are working on it.
"Make no bones about it," she said. "This is absolutely a town project."
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 802-254-2311 ext. 279. Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardReformer.