Time to clear funding gap for new skatepark

PHOTO PROVIDED BYBRATTLEBORO AREA SKATEPARK IS COMING COMMITTEEBrattleboro Area Skatepark Is Coming Committee celebrates getting its Act 250 permit through the state.

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BRATTLEBORO — The committee organizing the construction of a public skatepark has only a few more funding hurdles to jump, or "ollie" in skateboard jargon.

"It's an exciting time for us," said Jeff Clark, chairman of the Brattleboro Area Skatepark Is Coming Committee.

He has served on the committee for about nine years now but said the project goes back "way beyond" his time. A request for proposals regarding the 4,900-square-foot park's design has been issued. Bids must be in by May 9.

At a meeting last week, Clark thanked Select Board members and Town Meeting members for their continued support. At annual Representative Town Meeting, an article had been warned to provide $20,000 to the project. But Town Meeting members bumped the figure up to $60,000.

The Select Board just accepted and appropriated a $15,000 "challenge grant" from the Tarrant Foundation. The organization will provide $15,000 if the committee can find the same number of dollars in matching funds between May 1 and June 30.

"Eligible gifts will include personal or business donations, fundraiser proceeds and documented pledges," Lauren Curry, executive director of the Tarrant Foundation, wrote in a letter. "Grant awards will not be considered eligible unless specifically approved by our foundation."

Currently, the committee has secured $104,896 from individuals and corporations including the Representative Town Meeting contribution. It has $35,000 in pledges and $30,400 in grants. Still needed to reach the $230,000 goal is $59,704.

The committee is still waiting to hear back on a $5,000 grant application to the Walmart Foundation and a $25,000 grant through the outdoor-product company North Face. There are also plans to apply for a $15,000 grant through the Thomas Thompson Trust.

Community members are urged to visit MeetMeAtThePark.org and vote for Brattleboro. The town with the most nominations at the end of April wins $20,000.

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Upcoming fundraisers are expected to include a contra dance in Dummerston and another car show hosted by VTStance.

"It's an exciting time for our group," Clark reiterated at the end of his presentation to the Select Board. "It's long in coming but we're really happy with what we're seeing."

Board member Tim Wessel said he was excited.

"It feels good," added Brandie Starr, board vice chairwoman.

Starr said she plans to get a board because her 5-year-old asked her if she would skate once the park opens.

"It's not going to be good," she laughed.

Clark told board members a "good facility" will be built. He plans to return with an update about the Tarrant Foundation grant in July. State and local permits have already been approved.

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.