Brattleboro Selectboard visits skatepark sites
BRATTLEBORO -- The Brattleboro Selectboard visited the five potential sites for a new 6,500-square-foot skatepark Monday evening.
A committee that was appointed by the board to find the best locations for the skatepark recommended four of the sites, and the board looked at a fifth.
The board members wanted to have a look at the Elm Street Parking Lot, at Crowell Park, and at three locations at Living Memorial Park to see how the landscapes might best support a skatepark.
And if one thing was clear from the meeting, it was that any decision the board makes will come with pluses and minuses, and will likely anger one of the constituencies that have been following the issue.
The site with the least restrictions is probably the one up at the top of Living Memorial Park near the Kiwanis Shelter. That location is wide and free of storm water or flooding restrictions. There are two bathrooms nearby and of the five sites it is by far the largest, allowing for possible expansion.
Recreation and Parks Director Carol Lolatte called it "a great site," while giving a report during the meeting.
But skatepark supporters say it is too isolated and hard to get to if you are a young skateboarder without transportation.
The meeting was held Monday to give the Selectboard members a chance to look over the sites, and Selectboard Chairman David Gartenstein said at the start of the meeting that notes would not be taken and he discouraged opponents and critics from adding too many comments because the board would not be able to respond or appropriately record the information.
The board was joined by Planning Director Rod Francis, interim Town Manager Patrick Moreland, as well as Lolatte.
A few of the Skatepark Site Selection Committee members also visited the sites Monday.
Francis told the board that both of the other sites at Living Memorial Park have limitations.
The sites, one near the pool and the second behind the playsets above the pool, are near Whetstone Brook and would come with a range of state mandated storm water and fluvial erosion mitigation requirements.
Each site has a right-of-way that would need to be secured and would require plans, applications and potential mitigation steps which would all cost money.
Francis said if those hurdles could be scaled the sites could support the 6,500-square-foot skatepark.
At Crowell Lot supporters and critics squared off briefly over many of the same issues they have been discussing for four years.
Les Montgomery, who lives near Crowell Lot and is opposed to the skatepark, talked about the trees that would be lost while supporters shook their heads and said no trees were expected to be cut down if the park is sited at Crowell Lot.
Supporters commented on the multi-use aspects of the forested park while critics cautioned the board from moving the playground and giving up green space.
The Elm Street Lot is flat, and would require little site work, but the skateboarders say it is too urban.
Brattleboro Area Skatepark Is Coming committee Chairman Jeff Clark said it was the least favorite site of the committee, while the Skatepark Site Selection Committee chose it at its top site.
Now it is up to the Selectboard to parse out all the information and make a decision.
At each stop board members asked questions and listened to a short presentation from Lolatte on how the park would fit into the landscape.
The board members were not scheduled to talk about the skatepark at Tuesday night's meeting, and it is not clear when they will vote on the site.
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 279. Follow him on Twitter @HowardReformer.
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