Selectboard to look at skatepark design

Saturday February 16, 2013

BRATTLEBORO -- The Selectboard is set to take a look at the final designs for the town's skatepark during the board's regular meeting Tuesday night.

The Selectboard and the Brattleboro School Board both have to approve the plan before the town can move ahead with the project, which will also require between $285,000 and $358,000 in private fundraising.

The town's zoning administrator and its chairman of the Development Review Board also have to agree that the design conforms to the original plan, which has already been approved by the DRB, but those discussions do not take place in open session.

When the town's skatepark committee, Brattleboro Area Skatepark is Coming, or BASIC, gave final approval to the design at a meeting on Feb. 7, some of the members discussed whether it made sense to come before the School Board or Selectboard first.

Recreation and Parks Director Carol Lolatte said at the BASIC meeting that she didn't want to bring it to the Selectboard next week, during Winter Carnival when she would be very busy.

The current Selectboard, which is sympathetic to the current plan to site the park at Crowell Lot, voted 3-2 not to open the process back up to the public.

By coming before the Selectboard Tuesday night, BASIC avoids the risk of bringing the skatepark design before a new board after March 23, when there will be three new members on the board.

"We have three approvals we need to get, and they do not to have to happen in any order," Lolatte said. "These are three big steps we need to take but there is no A,B,C, or X,Y,Z, on how it has to happen. All of the gears are moving."

BASIC, at the Feb. 7 meeting, approved the more expensive design which includes a bowl.

Mike McIntyre, the designer from the firm ASD/Stantec who worked with the town, is expected to be at Tuesday night's meeting to talk about the public design practice and answer questions about the final design.

The Selectboard could hold a vote Tuesday, but the design also has to go before the School Board and both boards must approve the final design.

The DRB has already approved a preliminary plan but has to sign off on the final proposed design to make sure it conforms to the approved plan.

Brain Bannon, Zoning Administrator for the town of Brattleboro, said he has been trading e-mail messages with DRB Chairman Tim Cuthbertson, and Cuthbertson has asked Lolatte for some clarification on the proposed design.

Bannon said every project that receives preliminary approval has to be considered again by the DRB chairman when a final design is available.

Bannon said he expects Cuthbertson to make his final determination early next week.

Andy Davis, a District 3 Town Meeting Representative who has been working with a neighbor group opposed to the plan, said he expects the opponents to be out again Tuesday.

Davis admits that the group is running out of options and time, as the final skatepark design gets closer to final approval. But he said at this point he is holding out hope that town officials at least begin to answer some of the questions opponents have been asking.

Over the past few months opponents have been given time before the Selectboard meetings to voice their concerns, but the Selectboard has politely listened without engaging in conversation.

"We have gone before the Selectboard, but we have not had any of our questions answered," said Davis. "They have been stonewalling the critics."

Davis said Town Meeting Representatives voted on the project, but it was with the understanding that there would be a public process to find the best location for the park.

And while he understands that a previous Selectboard voted to work with the School Board on the Crowell Lot site -- and the board that might vote on the final design Tuesday includes three members who will not be on the board after March -- Davis said the town still has an obligation to gather input from members of the public who feel like they have been left out of the process.

"We still want to know what this might cost the town if they have to maintain it. And there are questions about parking and restrooms and supervision," Davis said. "At this point we hope that one of the decision makers in town will stop and say that we need to look at this site further."

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 279, or You can follow him on Twitter @HowardReformer.


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