Saturday August 17, 2013

BRATTLEBORO -- The Brattleboro Skatepark Committee will come before the Selectboard to talk about new ideas for the proposed skatepark at Crowell Lot.

The skatepark committee is not on the agenda to talk to the board at this week's meeting, but Recreation and Parks Director Carol Lolatte encouraged the committee to meet with the Selectboard soon, before any firm plans are made about the future of the skatepark.

Brattleboro Area Skatepark is Coming, or BASIC, met Thursday night to confront two sobering realities.

The first is that its two-year building permit, which was approved by the Development Review Board, expired on Aug. 15, 2013, and the committee will have to apply for a new permit whether it makes changes to the plans or not.

The second challenge confronting the committee is that fundraising efforts have slowed and the committee has about $100,000, including in-kind donations, after almost three years of fundraising. The 11,000 square-foot design that was approved by the DRB in August 2011, and by the Selectboard and the town school board, is projected to cost about $350,000.

While a formal vote was not taken at the BASIC meeting Thursday, all of the members who spoke said they were in favor of scaling down the proposed design and building a smaller skatepark with the money that the committee has been able to raise.

"We are meeting tonight to discuss what we want to propose for the future," BASIC Chairman Jeff Clark said at the start of Thursday's meeting. "We are wrestling with the idea of what will be at the Crowell Lot."

If the committee is able to raise $150,000, Lolatte said the designers would be able to design a park that was between 4,000 and 7,000 square feet, with about $9,000 needed for design changes.

It was not clear at Thursday night's meeting how the skatepark committee will proceed.

The committee will need approval from the DRB, the Selectboard and the Brattleboro Town School Board before investing another $8,000 to $10,000 in design changes, but the DRB is going to need at least a preliminary drawing to consider the skatepark design.

And at Thursday night's meeting Town Meeting Representative Andy Davis, who is a critic of the Crowell Lot location, said the committee's reconsideration of the design might be a good opportunity to open the public site process back up.

"The possibility of change may be an opportunity for collaboration," Davis said at the meeting.

Davis, along with some other home owners who live near Crowell Lot, have been opposing the skatepark's proposed location.

Even a smaller design, which might allow for the existing play structure to stay where it is, would probably not satisfy opponents.

Davis said a new townwide site process could win over the opponents, and possibly bring in more local donations for the skatepark, whereever it is ultimately built.

"We can have an real, open, mindful, community-wide look at where the skatepark should be built," said Davis. "The point is there is good will among the opponents. I would love to see something built."

Lolatte said the committee was charged with building a skatepark at Crowell Lot, and until the Selectboard disbands the committee and forms a new committee BASIC members were going to continue raising money and working toward building a skatepark at the Western Avenue location.

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at hwtisman@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 279. Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardReformer.