Skatepark group looks to reopen site selection


BRATTLEBORO -- The Brattleboro Skatepark Committee is going to ask the Selectboard to form a new site selection committee to find the best location for a proposed skatepark in Brattleboro.

The unanimous decision came after a three-hour meeting held Thursday, board Chairman Jeff Clark said, as the committee realized that public support for the Crowell Lot skatepark was waning.

"It was a very tough decision," Clark said Tuesday. "After looking at where we stand at this time, BASIC has decided to step to the side and go through the site selection process."

At the Oct. 1 Selectboard meeting, Brattleboro Area Skatepark is Coming, or BASIC, asked the Selectboard to approve a new skatepark design that was about half the size of the original park proposed for Crowell Lot on Western Avenue.

BASIC decided to try to build a smaller park after failing to raise the approximately $350,000 needed to construct the original 11,000-square-foot park.

But at that meeting some Selectboard members said the Crowell Lot location should be reconsidered after the Skatepark Committee changed its plans, and the Selectboard voted to table a decision on the new, reduced design until the Nov. 5 meeting.

Clark said BASIC met Thursday to determine its next step, and the group could have waited to see what the Selectboard was going to do.

After debating the project for three hours, Clark said, the committee decided to ask the Selectboard to form a new site selection committee.

Clark said the three-hour meeting was the longest meeting BASIC has held since forming in May 2010.

"We have to step back and figure out our ultimate goal, which is to get a skatepark built somewhere in Brattleboro," said Clark. "If this is the way it has to happen then we should step back and give it time."

Clark said the park could still be built at Crowell Lot, if that is the ultimate location the new site selection committee chooses.

Andy Davis, a member of the Resite the Skatepark Committee, was at Thursday night's meeting.

After years of debate between the two sides, Davis said Thursday night's decision marked an important step forward in the process.

"For the first time people were really talking about finding solutions," Davis said. "It felt like a real step in the right direction. For the first time the conversation was reasonable and now it feels like we are at a place where we can move the project forward with public support."

Clark said if a new location is found it is not clear if the existing skatepark design that the committee spent more than $16,000 on will be able to be used.

Clark also said all of the grants that the project has received to date will have to be looked at to determine if they can be transferred to another location.

If the Selectboard agrees to form a new site selection committee then BASIC will take a break for now, and wait to see if a location can be found for the skatepark, though Clark said he expects some BASIC members to serve on the site selection committee.

"It was a long meeting, and a tough meeting," Clark said. "We all want this built as quickly as possible but we had to come to terms to where we are as a committee. We all felt that this was the right route to take."

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


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