July 02, 2020

E. Millinocket skate park construction under way

EAST MILLINOCKET – A group of volunteers has revitalized the town’s flagging skateboard park effort by starting construction at a recreation complex off North Street, organizers said Wednesday.

The town Public Works Department and Pioneer Construction Co. of Howland donated materials and aided volunteers in staking out and leveling an 80-by-120-foot area near the tennis courts on North Street, said Nicole McCormack, who is helping organize the volunteer effort.

“We still need more landfill, and they are going to do that next week,” McCormack said Wednesday. “We have a lot of work to do yet. We are trying to determine the best surface to put down for a skate park. Anybody’s expertise would be appreciated. We are all just learning here.”

The Board of Selectmen voted 5-0 in August 2005 to site the park, which had an estimated cost of $60,000, near the complex because selectmen felt it is a natural fit with the pool, basketball and tennis courts, ball fields and open green space there.

They saw that town youth needed an area where they could skate without upsetting town businesses or inciting police crackdowns, a reality recognized by Pioneer Construction owner Ralph Watts, whose 16-year-old son lives in East Millinocket.

“The kids have to have something. If they’re not into sports, there’s not a whole lot they can do in town. It’s not going to take a whole lot to make the kids happy,” Watts said Wednesday. “They just want a place where they can ride and be left alone.”

“There’s no place for them to skate in town, and the cops are here constantly,” McCormack said. “I really don’t want to travel to a skate park in Bangor all summer … We’re doing it for the kids. They have asked for it for a couple of years.”

Watts’ donation, coupled with the town work, saved the project about $5,000, McCormack said.

Fundraising efforts continue, with an Oct. 27 Halloween dance planned for high schoolers, and donation canisters being placed around the area, McCormack said. The volunteers are working to establish a tax-free account where donations can accrue. Anyone interested in making donations or joining the volunteer effort is asked to call 731-2902.

The town also will help with donated time, materials and construction equipment, town Administrative Assistant Shirley Tapley said.

“We are there to lend support and assistance when needed,” she said.

The skate park will be incorporated into the recreation area and maintained by the town once the volunteer effort raises enough money and has it built, Tapley said.

“We are hoping by spring to have at least a foundation down,” McCormack said.

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