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Feb 20, 2003 to Feb 6, 2013

You Break It You Buy It


Since the Selectboard supervened in the matter of the skatepark location, reversing their previous commitment, annulling the vote of town meeting, backing-up their resolve by forming a skatepark search committee, all in the name of a solution, I’ll take this as the price of progress. But a few lingering questions continue to puzzle me.

That there are no skaters on the committee, although peculiar, this is not my primary concern. There is a stalwart member of BASIC, and a longtime Rec. Advocate aboard, this brings some consolation in that regard. But I do find it bizarre; would a golf course be sited without a golfer, or outdoor musical venue without the ear of a musician?

The timing of this search process is such that the committee is not expected to present final choices to the Rec. Board or Selectboard until well into the spring, virtually assuring another year will come and go without a place for locals to skate. It seems common sense and decency would dictate that temporary measures be effected to remediate this. Actually helping the population we are trying to help. One can only hope. Yet this piece isn’t what irks me, either.

What unsettles me is the idea that once a location is settled upon, will a new group of volunteers be summoned to finish the task of fundraising and design? There probably are masochists and diehards among us this dedicated, but it would take a special kind of nerve… Sisyphus in concrete.

I can’t imagine another group having to once again navigate the slings and arrows of preference and prejudice. Saying nothing of the burden of raising money, finding aesthetic agreement, and also shepherding plans through the gauntlet of permitting and approval, again.

Once this whole vetting and re-choosing process is concluded, shouldn't the town step-up and take full ownership of the project? The resolution of this matter should not be once again kicked back onto the backs of a handful of individuals. The project should be shouldered by the Rec. Dept, the Selectboard, and the town proper. It’s a town-wide recreational facility and ought to be seen as such, a capital expense.

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The Coming Storm

And with our impending tax crisis, where will the town find the money?

 
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No need

The town was never going to pay for it. Money comes from grants and donations. This is really about finding a location, officially, for the project.

Maintenance will be a long term expense for the town, but user fees cover the skating rink, so I'm sure we can find a creative way to cover the occasional cleanup. Big repairs would likely need more grants and donations. It might make sense to have a permanent donation box on-site (or just available somewhere) after it is built to build up a cushion.

Back to spinoza's discussion… the selection committee would do well to give an update on the criteria they will be using and the sites under consideration early in the process, to get feedback and allow everyone to trust their work more. If everything is hidden from the public, questions will likely arise.

I'm assuming, for example, that the group will be using many of the suggestions offered up for criteria by skaters. I don't know for certain, though.

The Town does need to "own" this. The site selection committee seems to be a first step toward doing so. Getting rid of laws against skateboarders would be another step - it's just making kids "criminals" for being kids.

 
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Speaking of money...

It may have been reported here or elsewhere, but now is a good time to repeat it if it has. Is there a good skatepark figure for the estimated build and start-up cost?

 
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If You Build It They Will Come.

That question is never asked before government starts a project. They'll figure that out later like they always do. Just look at the parking garage.

 
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If You Build It They Will Come.

>

 
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Participation

BASIC has already made public statements on several occasions that they wish to remain intact as a functioning town committee by requesting to reserve continued charge of designing the skate park and overseeing the fund raising operation/effort once the site selection process has been completed in May. Members of BASIC have already been actively involved making recommendations to the Skatepark Site Selection Committee (SSSC) at their meetings open to the public. Many predict a surge of additional support will culminate after permitting the development and greater opportunity for comprehensive public participation. So please (All Skaters Welcome!!) take part in this process so many worked hard to make attainable to all concerned, finally, and most of all get excited, not disappointed, it's your park.

BASIC's request has been generally accepted and was granted by the selectboard highly praising with respect to the committees ongoing interest, dedication and involvement especially in a more positive atmosphere of compromise reached between opposing parties of recent. This became most apparent leading up to an ice breaking reconsideration and concession brought forth when finding themselves in a somewhat stalled position seeking permit approval, then expired, for a smaller version of the initially proposed skate park size and plan. Here, once constructive dialogue was arrived at between the conflicting stances on the issue, it essentially reversed and smoothed over most jagged traces of a once (understandably so) defensive reluctance to acknowledge the relevancy of the mounting opposition. Those in the opposition publically started to pose many scrutinizing reasons elaborated more intensely when backed with research they felt had been skimmed over. They questioned the strategy and adequate planning of the skate park group's given mission carried out at a particular site the selection of which was, in my opinion,abruptly manipulated into place by the personal devise of certain town officials.
At this point, BASIC was limited to exhaustively defend the merits of this site already a foregone conclusion being preemptively fixated when singled out as a readily available location on the insistence of town officials and in doing so left no other options to consider before the public who felt there could be a better choice. This should have never been BASIC's obligation or task to obsessively rationalize this site resistant to closer public examination threatening it's very security.
The irregularity of the position they were put in to promote a site not properly assessed on the actual scope of criteria emphasized outside the group, instead became the source point of an emerging fracture so stressed in place as others in the community tried to peer in and get a handle on why it was chosen in the first place. This maneuver, really a stand off, completely strained the prospect of embracing potential continuity that would enable broader support allowing direct and substantial involvement in the initial selection process, although I'm sure some don't view in this way.
The seemingly irreversibility envisioned from the onset and assurance of sure advantage already out distancing reaction time in this approach was a diverging tactic to get things done in leaps and bounds ahead of the weakening ground and sudden pitfalls resorted to by the majority last select board. In my opinion their attempt was "broken" from the beginning and should never have been parted out as one of BASIC's primary, designated, ongoing responsibilities to argue the surfacing discrepancies from backlash. It instead proved an inescapable distraction hindering a lot of their other trident efforts from that point onward. Subsequently this predictable dispute set in motion from the start came to permeate the project when insisting on a location already predetermined and chosen in a biased, political insular manner imposing personal preferences above and in the face of open conscientious integrity trusted in our town system the rest of us did not appreciate being isolated from on this account. The treatment and lack of recognition of concerned citizens was in my opinion deplorable at it's lowest point.

As we know this controversy eventually manifested and was reflected in the decline of potential funding from certain portions of the community opposed wanting to correct and draw attention to the situation in order to address some of their concerns of impacts and safety factors. BASIC came to the realization a mutual agreement to support public site selection process would be in their and the community's best interest to put a skate park in an acceptable/ properly vetted location, wherever that may be, possibly all the sooner, while meeting and based on established criteria from all sources including actual, local perspectives and input once disregarded directly from a lack of process.

When BASIC returns to running skatepark implementation, it is certainly safe to say (although I can't speak for them) they would appreciate contributions and volunteers from those who felt they were previously excluded from the process such as former members of RESITE, SOPC or any other faction who in turn have expressed their willingness to help out in this fresh effort. This of course would be beneficial considering some former members of the opposition are well connected in our community as well as having quite a lot of fund raising experience.

To hastily expedite the site selection process as was the past failure when kept much less accessible from the public domain in it's entirety or just in by passing this crucial stage I assume to avoid incoming flack/grevience and timely setback, any quicker than the allotted time frame would only shortchange a thorough investigation of potential, available sites for a more refined choice that will be very permanent with surer solid grounding this time around.

In my opinion, I think in the current economy, the town's budget belt tightening and general spending constraints for most of us, it would be presumptuous to feel it isn't necessary for this skatepark to have as much of the town's support as possible to succeed.

Brattleboro Reformer 12/17/13 " Skatepark site rolls on" "McLoughlin (the chair) said it was important to make sure the public was welcomed and reminded that they were encouraged to participate throughout"

 
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Ways and Means

My impetus to write came from reading the article about the search comittee in the Reformer, which stated that there was no consensus on how search committee members would evaluate the prospective park. I also have not heard there is an expectation of continuity from BASIC, and I'm not sure, factoring burnout, frustration, or simply life changes, who will be sitting on the committee. And currently it's not clear to me whether the committee exists formally, has been mothballed, or de-populated to the point of being a different entity.

My understanding is that roughly a quarter of the funds have been raised- estimating $300k for the final tab. I understand there may be issues of site-related applicability for some of those funds.

My piece intended to shed light on questions of the ultimate ownership, and where a fair expectation for obligation in securing a town-wide facility ought to be. It also tried to touch on the cost of the human toll, when shifting realities come into play.

I am aware of the economic pressures we all face, locally and globally. To my mind, this urges scrutiny of appropriate measures, priorities, intentions, and effective plans.

 
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SkatePark Site Selection Committee

The skate park site selection committee will meet January 9th at the Brattleboro Municipal Building, times posted at their website. This will be an important meeting because the site selection criteria will be discussed and possibly decided upon. Informed individuals on what constitutes a great skate park (such as Spinoza I suspect) I hope will attend to offer their advise and expertise as well as skaters also speaking of what criteria is important to their needs.

 
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Meeting

Is the SSSC meeting at the Gibson Aiken Center at 5:15 on January 9th??

 
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YES

This is the correct time, let's hope for a good turn out, it's been a long time coming!

 

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