July 13, 2020

Old Town considers sites for board use

OLD TOWN – Andy Butler’s name wasn’t mentioned during Tuesday night’s discussion of a proposed skateboard park at a meeting of the city’s parks and recreation board. The Glenburn skateboarder and his death were, however, on the minds of several people who attended the meeting at Leonard Middle School.

“Now’s the time to start planning, ” said Scott Oakes, chair of the skate park committee. “We don’t want to wait until we lose one like they did in Glenburn.”

Butler, 14, was killed June 1 while in-line skating on the AA Landing Road in Glenburn. That community is raising private funds for a skate park to be named for the youth. It will be located on town property adjacent to the municipal building.

About a dozen teen-agers, some carrying their skateboards, participated in Tuesday night’s meeting. They, along with adult supporters of a skate park in Old Town, already have raised $1,400, but have not found a site for the park.

Six possible locations were identified at the meeting. They are: the Riverfront Park downtown; the skating rink at Old Town High School; a city-owned lot on Perkins Avenue; an unused piece of land between the Knights of Columbus Hall and the Elks Club; a city-owned lot at the end of the Fourth Street extension; and a piece of land on French Island next to the New Age Hair Salon owned by the Penobscot Indian Nation.

Members of the parks and recreation committee strongly suggested the skate park committee pick a site that would have a minimum impact on residential neighborhoods. The sites on Perkins Avenue and the Fourth Street Extension are near houses or apartment complexes, according to committee members.

The two committees Tuesday night did not seriously consider any of city’s three elementary schools expected to be vacated in 2003 when a new school is built behind the shopping center on Stillwater Avenue. The consensus of those attending the meeting was that that was too long for skaters to be without a park and a safe place to skate. Skateboarders now use the parking of lot of the Bangor Savings Bank on North Main Street.

The dilemma of finding a safe place to skateboard is not a new one in Old Town.

Oakes, 44, said he used to skateboard in the city’s four wading pools when they were not being used during the short summer season. That practice is no longer allowed, he said.

Scott Hoxie, 22, who has been skateboarding for 11 years, also agreed to serve on the skate park committee.

The father of a 9-month-old son, he spoke knowledgeably about the specific materials needed to build a skate park.

Many of the skaters, including Hoxie, who attended the meeting were familiar with other skate parks in the state, including those in Brewer, Greenville and Camden. Bangor’s skate park is scheduled to completed next spring in the west end of Bass Park in the parking lot near Dutton Street.

Oakes and Jeffrey Bryant, director of parks and recreation, agreed to consider the pros and cons of each site, gather information, then return to the board early next year with a recommendation for a permanent site. The ultimate goal, said Bryant, would be to have a skate park completed in the summer of 2001.

Patrick Pelletier urged the Parks and Recreation Committee to set up a temporary site for skaters while plans move forward for a permanent location. He suggested the city resurface a section of a high school lot and put in curbing.

“A permanent park is more than a year down the road,” he said. “These kids will be living out of state with 10 kids of their own before this happens.”

Janice Clark, chair of the parks and recreation committee, agreed.

“We think these kids have waited long enough,” she said. “They’ve been raising money for a couple of years now. It’s time to move forward.”

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