Jul 29, 2014

Skate Park's Fate to be Determined

Two local women lead the fight to save the park.

Skate Park's Fate to be Determined Skate Park's Fate to be Determined Skate Park's Fate to be Determined Skate Park's Fate to be Determined Skate Park's Fate to be Determined Skate Park's Fate to be Determined

Mimi Mehta and Mary Rohe are determined to save the  Chatham Skate Park, which has been closed since August on the advice of the township's insurance provider.

The skate park's future is listed as a discussion item on the agenda for the Jan. 31 Chatham Township Committee meeting. The committee will determine whether to contribute to repairs for the park or to close the park permanently.

Department of Public Works Director John Pacelli said the skate park needs a new asphalt deck, fasteners and intense renovations, all of which he said could cost between $50,000 and $100,000.

Mehta and Rohe say the cost of the repairs will be much lower. They estimate between $15,000 and $25,000 is needed, an amount they hope to get from the committee.

"We've come up with a plan to repair the existing ramps, and cover the asphalt with a special acrylic coating," Mehta said. The coating is designed for the acrylic wheels found on skateboards and skates, and has been used in Hillsborough and Edison, she said.

The original cost of the park was about $200,000, which was raised partly through donations and partly from the township. Local residents spearheaded the effort to get the skate park opened in 2003.

"It provides a great source of recreation," Mehta said at a September meeting of the Chatham Township Committee.

Rohe, a resident of Chatham Borough, said her three boys used the park frequently. "I've seen a real range of ages and activities there," she said.

In October they started an online petition, which has so far garnered 192 signatures. Signatories include residents of the Chathams, Madison, Florham Park, Short Hills, Bernardsville, New Providence, Berkeley Heights and Watchung, as well as other states and countries.

"Skaters and non-skaters alike--local kids who use the park, parents of young children, residents who don’t have skating family members but believe in the value of the park--see the benefit of having the skate park in our community," Mehta wrote in a press statement.

Mehta also cited a study published in a 2010 edition of Journal of Adolescent Research, which says skate parks promote social skills and civic responsibility. 

Mayor Nicole Hagner was not immediately available for comment.

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