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Brattleboro Selectboard Special Meeting - Skate Park Site Visits

The Brattleboro Selectboard will hold a special meeting on Monday, August 4, 2014 starting at 5:30pm in the Elm Street parking lot. The Board will visit three locations to review potential skatepark sites.

Jan Anderson
Executive Secretary
Brattleboro Town Manager's Office
(802) 251-8100






1. CONVENE MEETING – Elm Street Lot, 5:30pm 








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Careful what you wish for.

I was a strong supporter of the Crowell Park site and on this forum strongly criticized the opponents. I have since moved to town and now the site looks as if it will be right where I permit from the town to park my car. Ain't that a kick in the 'you know where'! But I still think a skate park would be an essential plus for the town and if it has to be there where I park then so be it. I'll find some other place to park. But no matter where they decide to put the skate park,somebody's not going to like it.


Public input needed

Please come tonight and show your support for this project for current and future generations of youth and action sports enthusiasts of all ages in the one and only Brattleboro, Vermont!


Your thoughts?

Well, what did everyone think about the site visits? Did you think there was enough public input? What is your #1 choice for a location?


Select 2 of the above

Missed the site visits. How did they do? Anything to note?

I think the committee did a great job of narrowing from nearly 50 proposed locations down to four, and I like all four. I said it before, but I'll repeat that I think the skatepark committee should be given two spots to work with, to settle the issue for the next 50 years.

I'd vote Elm and upper LMP. Great spots and minimal objections.

As for public input, my feeling is there has been (and remains) ample opportunity to express one's views. I think most of us can list the pros and cons articulated by the community for each spot quite easily.


ULMP & Whetstone sites

I think one has to employ a little future vision when contending with some of the complications each these locations presents or potential benefits they could offer with some imagination and creative design.

#1 Choice, Elm Street- any traffic issues/situation can be remedied here with signs, jersey boarders, crosswalks and/or speed bumps. It will be a skate park skateboarders can go all out on, something they really need, not to say a portion of which couldn't be dedicated to the novice and younger skaters. A small simple shaded shelter could be provided until planted trees take hold. There is plenty of room.

***OPEN Site Lines**** could not be better for frequent police patrol and in general.

This area of town has and will in the near future be developed with our youth in mind and could benefit from urban development type grants it has been said. Drugs are ubiquitous problem anywhere you go downtown, this should not negate the possibilities that exist at this site, supervision should be on the table. A few outspoken individuals from BASIC do not obviously represent all interests in the skateboard project, but their input is dually recognized.

#1 Choice Upper Living Memorial Park
Build it and they will come, all in all the best set up by far for all wheel friendly features such as trails, huge bowl area, and terraces. It is presently isolated to some, but was jamb packed up there yesterday with activity which made this statement harder to believe and we have come to find out another bathroom exists up top for use at the Kiwanis Club close by making two possible choices for restrooms within the park, not to mention three parking lots to choose from and directly off main access road. This is the best choice for all ages and abilities as well as varied skating types.

The Lower Memorial sites, there are two, are good ( the senior picnic area less so) but would need work done to sure up abutting river bank. This work would benefit all those rec park activities located on that side such as, basketball & Bochiball court, pool, and playground that did not however sustain damage during Irene but could conceivably suffer future damage from another 100 yr. flood with some erosion that took place on river banks and would be subject to act 250 review and restrictions costing additional money. ******Think of how this same money could be spent for Upper Living Memorial Park's summer supervision and installing emergency call boxes!*******


The lowdown?

Can anyone who attended add a comment on the proceedings? What was the turnout? The type of discussion? Were there exchanges about moving forward from this point?


The draft minutes:


Selectboard members present: David Gartenstein, Kate O’Connor, David Schoales, John Allen, and Donna

Staff present: Interim Town Manager Patrick Moreland, Recreation & Parks Director Carol Lolatte, Planning
Services Director Rod Francis, and Executive Secretary Jan Anderson.

Media present: Olga Peters and Randy Holhut representing The Commons, Howard Weiss-Tisman
representing the Brattleboro Reformer, and volunteers from BCTV.

Others present: Many members from the public, various members from BASIC (Brattleboro Area Skatepark
is Coming) Committee, various members from the Skatepark Site Selection Committee, and Adam Hubbard
from Stevens & Associates Engineering.

Chair David Gartenstein called the meeting to order at 5:35pm at the Elm Street parking lot. He confirmed
that the meeting was properly warned. He said that the purpose of the meeting was to visit potential
skatepark location sites that were selected by the Skatepark Site Selection Committee. He said that the
Board would meet at a later date to discuss the results of the site visits and take public comment.

POTENTIAL SKATEPARK LOCATION SITE VISIT – Elm Street Parking Lot. Recreation & Parks Director
Lolatte reviewed and discussed the site, the proximity of the Whetstone Brook, parking, and the
surroundings. Planning Services Director Francis reviewed and discussed Town zoning regulations and
State regulations regarding the brook. Members of the Board and members of the public asked questions
and made comments about the site.

Gartenstein called a recess and said that the meeting would move to the Crowell Lot on High Street and
would immediately reconvene at that location.

POTENTIAL SKATEPARK LOCATION SITE VISIT – Crowell Lot. Gartenstein reconvened the meeting at
5:55pm at the Crowell Lot. Recreation & Parks Director Lolatte reviewed and discussed the site, the
skatepark plans previously prepared for the site, and the lease with the School District. Planning Services
Director Francis reviewed and discussed Town regulations. Adam Hubbard discussed the nearby bank and
the previous skatepark plans. Members of the Board and members of the public asked questions and made
comments about the site.

Gartenstein called a recess and said that the meeting would move to the lower section of Living Memorial
Park by the basketball court and would immediately reconvene at that location.

POTENTIAL SKATEPARK LOCATION SITE VISIT – Living Memorial Park. Gartenstein reconvened the
meeting at 6:10pm in the section near the basketball court at Living Memorial Park. Recreation & Parks
Director Lolatte reviewed and discussed the site, proximity of the Whetstone Brook, bank stabilization, flood
zone, and neighboring Brookside condominiums. Planning Services Director Francis and Adam Hubbard
reviewed and discussed State fluvial regulations, Act 250 requirements, and local regulations. The Board
and participants then moved to the senior/camp stabilization area of the park. Lolatte, Francis, and Hubbard
discussed the site, State fluvial regulations, Act 250 requirements, and local regulations. The Board and
participants then moved to the upper level of the park in the middle of the horseshoe turn of the road. Lolatte
reviewed pros and cons of that site for use as a skatepark. Members of the Board and members of the
public asked questions and made comments about each of the three sites at the park. Schoales suggested
that participants remain after the meeting to discuss options and compromises for the location of a



Vox populi

Thanks for the official report.

Still would like to hear some firsthand viewpoints about what happened, and is happening.


Ask Former Basic Leader who

Ask Former Basic Leader and aficionado who has returned to the ring and spoke on site only to be proceeded by how Peter Whitely himself responded to his negativity (NIMBYs references) on BASIC's FB thereafter concerning the Elm St, Lot pointing out any fowl issue insinuated presently existing down there really isn't insurmountable and could be contended with or in other words Mr. Whitely thinks it is indeed a viable location! I personally think some BASIC members are regressing back to their old habits with less than a desirable vibe toward improving Public Relations with such commentary behind the scenes that could only hurt potential sources of funding in the long run, really a pity. I think the Selectboard better hurry up and make some kind of a final decision before we all suffer a major relapse.


At the mtg last night

SB Chair said it almost came to blows, which is not really reflected in the minutes.


Bottom Line

I think what your referring to was all for show to try and influence SB members and get their attention. The bottom Line in my opinion is that BASICs current position is to promote Crowell Park. They stand to save money on design work that has already been underway there. There's one major problem with this direction in that it tends to detract and attempt to override the potential established when examining all positive criteria of sites concerned through the lengthy process just completed by the SSSC determining the viability of other possible sites that suddenly seem to be consistently shot down by BASIC leaders for whatever reason when these could be overcome with a little ingenuity. I ask what kind of community support will they come to rely on with that behavior?

I can only tell you I have two professional ISA Arborist's reports conducted at Crowell Park by two vastly experienced arborists well respected in their field that agree critical root zones areas will be severely affected or compromised to the demise of several established,valued recognized, elder, shade trees surrounding the proposed skate park there, not to mention the elimination to two flowering cherries in front right off and the fate of the hedge as it impedes limited site lines there. What do they have for proof? Yes, you can excavate tracts of the park trees fragile root systems and put all that concrete in, deprive their ability to survive and leave the trees standing conveniently avoiding responsibility as they gradually die off as a result of the development (the removal cost of which for safety reason will be substantial) , but by that time it's obviously too late.

Hazardous traffic safety issues and lack of bathrooms, reduction of other park uses and their displacement costs, no room for expansion and issues of not respecting buffer zones with neighbors in close proximity and drug peddling also rate High on the list that make Crowell a questionable choice at the least.

I also have to say I have trouble with someone from Dummerston calling the shots and asserting his personal opinions for Brattleboro residents while representing BASIC (nothing personal), maybe there is potential at the old Maple Valley Ski slope area up that way in his neck of the woods if he personally doesn't like most of the other potential locations selected by the Site Selection Committee.


BASIC, CRZ's et al

To be brief (which you, rootrunner could try to do more often)-

1 - Your beginning assumption is incorrect at best.

2 - As to the CRZ's, you know where they are (according to 'your' experts), but you really have NO IDEA exactly where the newly designed skatepark area will go, do you?

3 - Most of these objections would also apply to your #1 choice, Elm Street Lot.

4 - As to your characterization of 'someone from Dummerston' calling the shots, he is the elected President of BASIC, and when he speaks as such, he speaks for the entire group, which is a Town committee, with local area residents from Brattleboro and yes, Dummerston. Their entire family is as much a part of the local skateboard community as anyone is, and you are way off with that comment. Their collective investment of time and energy into this project would rival anyones, and they are doing it for the benefit of everyone in this community! What are you doing?

Thanks very much for all your energy and commitment to a solution to this aging dilemma.


Brief it is, sort of

Trying to find an ISA certified arborist in this region that deals/specializes with tree replacement costs who runs an actual business dedicated to such professional evaluations is like trying to find a needle in a haystack, they are very few and far between, especially with David Hawkins extensive, impressive credentials, so there is no imaginary bias unlike others who pretend to have the same qualifications. You would know this if your group had cared to looked into this, but I realize park tree preservation would not be a priority for skateboard park development. It was the Brattleboro tree warden and Tree advisory Committee who recommended we hire such a person for the town could not provide anyone with these kind of credentials and expertise. Even though I know the basic methods I do not pretend to be a professional arborist.
Secondly what exactly is left of a skate park outline after it twists and turns to give these "surrounding" trees adequate space, not much and would end up being a pitiful waste of utilized neighborhood green space depriving others in my opinion.

As far as your leader I mean no disrespect, but he does not represent all skateboarders because I know a few who would like to see it at Elm street even if it is "too" Urban. Skateboarding in an Urban environment, novel?, not a contradiction of terms I have to say if you look at any skateboard magazine depicting what skateboarders are doing these days on concrete most of it's downtown. BASIC's president has prefaced many public statements recently by starting out, in his personal opinion. I have to say I was flabbergasted at BASIC's response to Elm I would personally take it and run.

Do you want room for expansion, access to bathrooms (and no the little store won't help you out),safely set back from hazardous high speed traffic, that doesn't infringe on other park uses, that could be well supported, then maybe BASIC needs to reevaluate their stance on Crowell Park and grow up & stop instigating negative remarks on their face book page towards others in our community again. I know that's harsh and I do like you Joe Bob, but really.............. We have done tons to make this selection one available for the entire community (see BCTV films for one), so let's keep it that way.



I'm sorry, I meant no disrespect to you either, Les. I admire your drive and energy here. I agree with you more than you realize.



Thanks Joe, your opinions are always respected as well as your own immense dedication, Les


Here ComesThe Commons-- arghhh

I guess the only location that isn't loaded with controversy is Upper Living Memorial Park, We are just going to have to devise a system of dropping off skaters who don't want the extra exercise walking the final stretch up ( the length of a football field) from the Skate Rink parking lot that dog walkers presently have no problem with, work in season pass/waiver to generate income coupled with special events in order for the skate park to be supervised and more self sufficient combined with a volunteer watchdog support group.

Emergency call boxes will have to be installed, and a natural barrier (evergreen hedge) wintertime skiers can ski around to minimize the 6500 sq. ft. loss to them unless snowboarders can somehow use this same area (Bowl), have to say not a lot of skiing happens in that depression where the bowl would go, I have been keeping an eye on it over the past couple of years.

Skate Terraces above bowl will be sympathetic with the landscape following natural contours while using earth tones in concrete to simulate rock ledge, safe skate trails devised switch backing along the main upper access road that will have speed bumps to prevent skaters from using it, winter time skiers can ski over these trails as they do the main access road now and the speed bumps removed.

If the park is tastefully designed it does not have to be an eye soar in the slightest or detract from the natural landscape (there will be no tree removal) and charging a day fee to non-residents outsiders really may benefit the park as a whole for it's up-keep. Strict skate park hours will be maintained to respect residences in the distance and the buffer zones are the best of any location except Elm Street in my opinion. This could be the closer, End of Story or should I say Epic Drama Epilogue.


It's just a playground folks.

Upper Living Memorial Park achieves only one goal: it removes skaters from the community and puts them as far away as possible

It is the worst possible location to site a skatepark. No skaters want it up there.

This location completely misses the point and exposes those who advocate for it as unwilling to listen, compromise or learn what makes a successful skatepark.

Skateparks are not nuisances to be mitigated, they are the next stage of playgrounds for our kids. They are wholesome outlets to be included with play structures, ball courts, ball fields and swingsets. They are inclusive places not to be shunned.

The vehement opposition to this project is confusing and depressing.

A Skatepark located in an appealing community space would be an attractive amenity for the Town of Brattleboro, but if we continue to feed overblown fears and speculative concerns, it will be a long time before it becomes a reality.


"They are wholesome outlets

"They are wholesome outlets to be included with play structures, ball courts, ball fields and swing sets" ...ie I assume a so called microcosmic utopia specifically id. according to yourself.

.....and just happens to be directly located off the busy intersection of Union Hill and Western Ave at Crowell Park, why don't you just say it and dig your heels in even deeper and cause further community unrest lessening the chance of support once again, talk about compromise, it seems to be missing from your vocabulary, it is apparent you just can't let go of this particular pet project and think outside the box for one minute attempting to achieve some degree of unity, but rather choose to make it a reoccurring stand off for all of us concerned once again while others from BASIC scoff at the Elm Street Location, a viable choice according to Peter Whitley.

"The vehement opposition to this project is confusing and depressing".....you mean the public process that presents other possible locations threatens the initial investment of the former selection of Crowell Park and exposes more of it's flaws you have to be accountable for is annoying to you.

You make it sound like ULMP is in the back woods somewhere, it is within the main town of Brattleboro's multiuse 68 acre Rec Park, could not be more centrally located with access road top to bottom, safely set back, respects neighbors, has bathroom(s),snack bar, pool, has room for expansion, has all the same variety of park uses and more you mention only well spaced out, is environmentally most pleasing, could be supervised and has endless possibilities as our local population grows and utilizes more of the park for the future.
Do we complain the Ice Rink?, Ski Slope( skiers bullied at the top?), Tennis courts, Outdoor Theater, Kiwanis Club, Upper ball field are too isolated, no we do not, but think you continue to rally young impressionable minds against it. Any opinions besides your own are overblown and speculative. I guess that's why two grass root community opposition groups to Crowell Park had to form over the past four years to address issues conveniently overlooked there and we area and we are all in the wrong.
"No skaters want it at ULMP", I'm so glad you can take the liberty to speak for my family and all others I know who support it! Your riding this project off course and directly into the ground (not ground breaking for compromise) with these kind of attitudes, in my opinion.


When the Selectboard visited

When the Selectboard visited the Crowell Lot there was a young girl, of probably seven, sitting on the swings with her dad, to the side was nice little pink, long spoked scooter. They swung for about 15 minutes and got up and left. It sure would have been fun if she could have wheeled around on some pavement AND swung on the swings AND played on the play structure. And maybe her brother would have come along if there was something at a level in between basketball and swingsets. And if dad felt like walking the perimeter loop of the park, he would have felt good about all the other people in the park looking out for each other.

I understand there are different visions, less utopic; with noisy kids, damaged trees, no toilets and dangerous traffic But what is confusing, to me, is why those concerns haven't been raised for to the current users of the park? The swingset by the road? the play structure at the top of the bank? the basketball court in the critical root zone? Are the thumping basketball and shrieking kids a nuisance? and where do they go to the bathroom?

Fortunately, we don't have to get an answer to that question: I understand well enough that the opposition to Crowell Lot is so strong and enduring that Selectboard has little interest in moving forward there.

Therefore, as I said at the meeting, the lower area of Memorial Park would make very suitable location. But I also feel strongly that the money for the study needed to advance that location should come from the town. BASIC has spent tens of thousands of dollars and thousands of volunteer hours for surveying, soil testing, a noise study, design, permitting, an appeal, mediation and approvals. To ask BASIC to raise more money for a feasibility study, to determine if the location works, might put an insurmountable burden on them.

The selectboard undid a lot of hard work, a lot of volunteering, and a lot of good faith. Stepping forward with proactive support would go a long way towards smoothing a path forward.





short fuse

Sorry for the sharp tone of the original post...

I meant to say:
ULMP is the worst of the selected sites, in my opinion.
No skateboarders, that i know, support the ULMP site, which will make it hard for enthusiastic fundraising.
As far as riding the project into the ground, I have certainly made enough mistakes that i can take plenty of responsibility for where we stand. But I'm not sure you are the best judge of that.



At one time, not long ago, Brattleboro had a thriving skateboarding culture. It wended round the town, over hill and dale, on the sidewalks, in the parking lots, down driveways, on the streets... Its greatest cost was the cost of a skateboard. Its greatest concern was the freedom of fun, competition, showing off and old-time camaraderie. All it took was a desire of balancing on a board with wheels.

The biggest skateboarding thrill I get these days is when I see a lone skater in public in defiance of the shifting currents that wants to put them in a glorified box canyon. I find myself waving to the lone skaters I see because they are a dying breed. I believe it was our one and only Spinoza (I think?) who made some analog to our own Native peoples forced behind corrals, evermore boxed into reservations, and, he took some flak for it.

Of course, I’ll always be in favor of a skatepark for all the reasons stated so many times here on iBrattleboro. But because of the politicized shenanigans behind it, with all the silly, fighting behavior, mischief and yes, fisticuffs in spirit if not the flesh attending it, it is not a highpoint in Brattleboro’s history. It is a black day on the reservation.


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