Repairing a Skatepark
Weekend Halfpipe Event to Benefit Lebanon Facility
Jon Hough, of Hartford, skates on the halfpipe at the Lebanon Skate Park while friends Adam Sayre, center, and Nate Michels, right, watch on Tuesday. Hough planned a fundraiser that he hopes will raise awareness of the deterioration of the park. Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage Purchase photo reprints »
Nate Michels, of Lebanon, does an eggplant on the halfpipe at the Lebanon Skate Park on Tuesday. A fundraiser to raise awareness of the deterioration of the park is planned for this Saturday. Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage Purchase photo reprints »
Lebanon — The skating and riding facilities at Riverside Community Park are in need of repair or replacement. On Saturday, Upper Valley skaters are hoping everyone gets on board to make it happen.
Hartford resident and skating enthusiast Jon Hough is spearheading “A Day at the Park,” a mini ramp (halfpipe) contest to benefit structural improvements at the facility.
Featuring competitions at two skill levels, festivities will also include a live disc jockey, four sets of prizes from event sponsors and a raffle for a skateboard signed by pro boarder Jamie Thomas. A trick contest will also be held on a separate obstacle.
All proceeds will benefit a Lebanon Department of Recreation and Parks fund earmarked for improvements and upgrades at the facility. The account was registered when the park first opened in 2002, but has long been drained of resources, according to Lebanon recreation and parks director Paul Coats.
Coats and Hough are hoping to replenish it to help perform necessary repairs to the park’s wooden ramps, many of which have splintered studs or cracks in their composite surfaces.
Hough envisions eventually replacing the park with concrete obstacles encompassing both street-style (rails, staircases) and transition-oriented ramps.
“The frames are rotting and deteriorating quickly at this point,” said Hough, 26, who’s been skating there since he moved to the area six years ago. “It could really use some resurfacing.”
Coats, who was a brand-new Lebanon recreation program director when he helped the park come to fruition 11 years ago, said it’s no surprise the facilities are in need of repair.
“When the ramps were built, we were told their useful life would be about 10 years,” Coats said in a phone interview Wednesday. “We knew going in that there would be maintenance down the road, but we’ve never been able to funnel money into a replacement program.”
Approached by a group of Lebanon skaters about the need for a park during his first day as the recreation department’s program director in 2001, Coats helped the city apply for and receive a state Land, Water & Conservation Fund grant the state. That helped limit to $50,000 the city’s investment in Riverside Community Park, which also includes a riverside trail, playground and pavilion.
Since its inception, the park has drawn skaters from across the Upper Valley and beyond. Annual ramp contests had previously been held by the city in conjunction with Enfield-based Whaleback Zero Gravity, and later with help from the Embasi Board and Clothing Co., which closed in December 2010.
Hough hopes Saturday’s event will help rekindle enthusiasm for contests at the park — as well as efforts to improve it.
“I’m hoping it’s a good demonstration of how the skatepark brings together community,” Hough said. “It would be great to see it become one of the leading skateparks in New England. It’s a great place for independent extreme sports, not only skateboarding but people on roller blades, scooters and bikes. I’ve even seen a unicyclist there. I’ve seen an 83-year old man skateboarding there. There are packs of children there on any given day or evening.”
Hough, who is in the final stages of developing an online skateboard retail company called Dex Skateboards, has mapped out his vision for a future concrete park at the site. Coats supports the initiative.
“I agree wholeheartedly with his vision; I think it would be outstanding to have a concrete facility,” he said. “Traditionally (outdoor concrete parks) have been considered nonviable in New England because of our freeze-and-thaw cycles, but there is a new style of construction where it’s all above ground and lasts a lot longer.”
Hough wishes to focus first on the street-style half of his concrete park vision, which he said would cost between $160,000-$180,000, based on preliminary estimates. He feels such an ambition is a realistic goal at Riverside, the Upper Valley’s largest outdoor skate park.
“A huge thing we have going for us is that the space for the park has already been formed and the surface is still in good condition,” he said. “It will serve as a great base for a new park.”
Jared Pendak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3306.