2014-09-19 / Front Page

Skate park plan rolls forward

Options include Parsons Field and Factory Pasture Lane parcels
By Alex Acquisto
Staff Writer

KENNEBUNK— After brief deliberation on Tuesday night, the board of selectmen voted to move the question of installing a skate park at Parsons Field to a second reading.

Chris Osterrieder, community development director for Kennebunk, told the board that the site for a future skate park had been winnowed to a parcel on Factory Pasture Lane or Parsons Field.

Osterrieder and Town Manager Barry Tibbetts have been in collaboration with Sandy Noble of Who Skates, a local skate park design and construction business that was “instrumental” in helping the town build its first skate park (about 2,400 square feet in size) more than a decade ago on Factory Pasture Lane, said Tibbetts.

During the planning process for a new skate park, in the last three years, Tibbetts and Osterrieder have met with families and children who use the skate park to research the selection of a new location and new facility.

The town began the search process with about a dozen locations. By sifting through a series of desirable conditions — visibility, parking, open space, etc. — the town narrowed down the potential location.

“In the process we had looked at what elements of the park were important,” Osterrieder said.

The goal is not to simply build a replica of the current skate park, which is above ground and composed of outdated materials, but to install a larger, in-ground concrete facility approximately 7,000 square feet in size.

If Factory Pasture Lane is selected as the location for a new facility, the old park would be removed and new concrete would be poured. However, Osterrieder said, that site has shortcomings. The Factory Pasture Lane site offers limited space and an isolated location.

“It’s kind of nestled in there, you’ve got very informal parking and it’s kind of tucked away. When you look at the ultimate facility we’re looking at now it probably effectively almost triples it in size,” Osterrieder said.

“The uniqueness of that site is, it’s very jagged,” Osterrieder said. “If we were to try and accommodate the desired park layout, I think it wouldn’t work on that site.”

Parsons Field, in turn, offers a lot of “dead space” which could be utilized for the future skate park, Osterrieder said.

“This site is very flat, which is an advantage to this. Based on our rating of all the criteria, one of the biggest advantages we’ve identified in terms of this park is the visibility,” Osterrieder said.

The field is bordered by Grove, Dane and Park streets, which Osterrieder said is a plus. “This is nice in that, you can drive down Park Street, whether it be the police or the public in general, and be in visibility of it (the skate park),” he said.

Further, said Tibbetts, “What we heard from the families was that the skateboard parks are more of a family function and that families will go there — one of their kids may be playing softball and the other will be on the skateboard. It’s really more of an integrative usage ... this site has a lot of positives for the family.”

The size of Parsons would also enable the town to install the skate park with enough room for a buffer area, but it would require the baseball field to be shifted about 30 feet, which is a “minimal amount of work to have to do,” Osterrieder said.

The town has appropriated $100,000 for the project, but due to its collaboration with Who Skates, the town is getting a heavily discounted deal. Without the collaboration and the discount a park of this proposed size, the project would likely cause 50 percent more, Osterrieder said.

“Having Who Skates involved is very beneficial to us—they not only design these parks, they construct them,” Tibbetts said.

The board will hear a second reading on Sept. 23. If the Parsons Field site is approved, the final design and permitting process will take place between November and March, and construction will tentatively begin in April.

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