It should never have come to this.
A skatepark at Crowell Lot was about a safe place for kids to roll around on their bikes, scooters and skateboards, a wonderful plaza. It’s not a hog farm or a strip club.
Skating is a rare and magical sport, where athleticism and art come together. It’s a way to get your heart racing, to challenge yourself, to express yourself. It’s largely free and gets kids outdoors and unplugged. It fills an important void for kids that do not play team sports or competitive sports. Skating creates amazing social bonds for kids of different ages and economic backgrounds. There is nothing like it.
And still there is an innate bias in our community against teenage boys. It cannot cannot be overlooked or ignored. (The 7-12 year old boys and girls often get left out of mental image of a skatepark). The decision to go back to site selection is simply the fear of the unknown overcoming common sense. This is about re-siting the park out of the neighborhood. None of this would have been an issue if it was a new tennis court or sprawling play structure in Crowell Lot. Trees? Noise? Maintenance Costs? Do you really think these were the issues?
The fact that Brattleboro has an ordinance prohibiting skateboarding downtown, yet will not provide a safe, secure facility speaks to the disingenuous regard we hold for our youth. 'Go Away' is the message we’ve sent.
I imagine it will always be an uphill battle when some Selectboard members view the discussion between opponents and advocates in the confines of the Selectboard room. After all, how many kids do you know that are willing to come 24 public meetings and stand up against the dedicated and well versed, albeit misinformed, opponents? (not to mention iBratt)
And to be very clear about the matter: this decision comes from only a select few and a host of Crowell Lot neighbors. To all those who have pitched in, who took time to support it we appreciated your effort, sincerely. To the School Board, the Recreation Board, the Development Review Board, Town Meeting Representatives, to current and former BASIC members: Thank You. To our wide range of donors: Thank You. To the advocates and skaters: Thank You, sorry there is not a park yet.
I truly hope that a site selection study uncovers an optimal spot for a park; a piece of town land that is central to downtown, accessible by bike, board or foot, highly visible, part of a mixed recreation facility and not cost prohibitive to build.
I also hope that the community finds volunteers that will take this project on. Volunteers willing to design, permit, fundraise and construct the park. I think we are still capable of it, but it will take serious trust and goodwill to believe that the Town is serious about getting a skatepark built.