BRATTLEBORO - The town hosted its first public information session Thursday night on design concepts for the proposed skatepark at Crowell Park.
About 50 people came out to the meeting, which was held in the Gibson Aiken Senior Center.
Just about everyone who spoke at the meeting appeared to support the park, and very few of the vocal opponents who have been fighting the park attended.
The meeting was led by skatepark architect Mike McIntyre, of ASD-Stantec, the firm that won the bid to design the park.
Town officials, including Town Manager Barbara Sondag, Recreation and Parks Director Carol Lolatte and Selectboard member Ken Schneck attended Thursday's hearing.
McIntyre has helped design more than 150 skateparks and BMX parks.
He said the meeting was held to "build consensus" on what skaters would like to see at the new park.
McIntyre opened the meeting by showing plans from parks around the country that incorporated a number of different designs and features.
Some had public plazas, while others had gardens, green designs and even one that included a stage for concerts.
He stressed that it would be up to the people of Brattleboro to design what their park ultimately will look like.
Each town and city has its own zoning regulations and McIntyre said Brattleboro's park will be unique to what the local community wants, including sections for spectators and walkers who are not
McIntyre used the town's initial plans to highlight some of the options open to the Crowell Lot park.
He said the first meeting is usually a time to find out what the users want, and then at the second meeting there will be time to talk more about amenities and other features that are built around the skateboard features.
Skaters of all ages offered ideas for the bowl, ramps, hips, stairs, bumps and walls.
Barry Lane, a longtime supporter of the skatepark, said it was important to everyone in town that skaters of all abilities be able to find something challenging about the new park.
Spencer Crispe talked about the importance of fitting as many features into the relatively small area as possible without losing skating area to other uses.
McIntyre said the most successful parks maintain a balance between skating area and options for people who are not skateboarding.
Whatever the town ultimately decides to put in the park, McIntyre said he will make sure the pieces fit, and he said it is more important to have proper ratios instead of cramming in as many features as possible.
Supporters need to raise about $300,000 to begin construction, and have so far raised almost $100,000.
McIntyre said the design process can be an important stepping stone toward more bringing in more money.
In past projects, he said, opponents have changed their outlook after seeing the design, and fundraising picked up when people saw the plans.
The meeting was the first of at least two public sessions that designers hope to hold to gather input and ideas on the proposed park before releasing a final design to the town for approval.
McIntyre said the first sketch will be available online on Oct. 16.
The next public meeting on the design is scheduled for Oct. 25, which will include a walking tour of Crowell Park.
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at email@example.com or at 802-254-2311 ext. 279.