BRATTLEBORO -- The Brattleboro Skatepark Site Selection Committee members are developing a rating system to weigh the strengths and weaknesses of each potential location before setting out across town to start looking at potential sites for a new skatepark.
The Selectboard named seven members to the committee after the town's existing skatepark committee decided to stop raising money for a proposed skatepark at Crowell Lot on Western Avenue due to opposition raised to the lack of a site selection process.
The committee has asked the town's Planning Department for maps of town-owned, and privately-owned, locations that might work as a location for a new skatepark.
But before committee members set out to start looking at locations they tried to establish guidelines and a rating system before offering their suggestion to the Recreation and Parks Department, and in turn, to the Selectboard for final approval.
The committee held its second meeting Thursday night, and while they spend a long time talking about the rating system they did not commit to a system for rating the sites.
The committee knows it needs a site that is at least 6,500 square feet for a concrete park, but beyond that the members are going to create a rating system for criteria ranging from parking, access, shade, security and other factors.
Once they decide which factors are important each committee member will grade the criteria on their own ranking scale.
They will then debate the sites, and eventually vote on which works out best for the town.
One of the biggest factors to consider is cost, and the committee is going to focus on town-owned land, though they are going to also consider privately held properties.
The group named Betsy Gentile as chairwoman and Elizabeth McLoughlin as vice chairwoman of the committee.
The committee also spent part of the time Thursday establishing guidelines for soliciting and receiving public comments.
The committee meets in open session. The meetings are warned and the notes are available.
McLoughlin said it was important to make sure the public was welcomed, and reminded that they were encouraged to take part in the process throughout.
"The Selectboard made it clear that they wanted the public to participate," McLaughlin said. "And whomever applied, and wasn't selected should not view that as avoiding participation. Their participation is welcome. There should be opportunities for public input."
The committee also decided to set up an e-mail account for the public to offer comments and input, though the e-mail address was not yet established at press time.
Recreation and Parks Director Carol Lolatte said once the committee schedules site visits it will publicize the visits and then probably hold meetings at larger venues to more specifically debate certain proposed locations.
The Selectboard wants the committee's recommendation before May 1, and the committee hopes to establish its criteria at the next scheduled meeting on Jan. 9 and start to focus in on specific sites soon after that.
"We have a pretty tight deadline here," Gentile said. "We have a lot of work to do, and we don't have a long period of time to do it."
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at email@example.com; or 802-254-2311, ext. 279. You can follow Howard on Twitter @HowardReformer.