June 24, 2018
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MDI skate park group wants town’s support, two years to raise funds

By Bill Trotter, BDN Staff

BAR HARBOR, Maine — The Mount Desert Island Skatepark Association will have to wait until Oct. 4 to find out if the town will give them another two years to raise funds to build a skateboard facility on Park Street.

Representatives of the association met with the Town Council on Tuesday night to show the board drawings of the proposed park, which would sit on town-owned land on the corner of Park and Main streets, next to the town’s athletic fields. The facility would include ramps, rails and a skating bowl, part of which would be 7 feet deep from the rim.

A wooden ramp now stands at the site where the concrete facility would be built. The town agreed a few years ago to let the association build and use the temporary wooden ramp at the site while the group tried to raise funds for a permanent skate park.

But some councilors said Tuesday that they had concerns about the association’s proposed design and about its plans to not have the facility fenced off or supervised. Representatives of the MDI YMCA, which is across Park Street from the skateboard site, also raised concerns at the meeting about the facility’s proximity to the Y, which they said makes some people think it is part of the Y, and about how it would be managed.

Councilor Paul Paradis said he was concerned about how deep the bowl would be, and that someone could be in there, especially at night, and not be seen by a police officer passing by in a patrol car.

Deborah Page of the association told Paradis and other councilors that because the rim of the bowl would be at the top of a 7-foot-high grass embankment, it would be very difficult for someone to stumble into it accidentally. She said that similar skate parks in other locations, which she did not specify, have been built without fences and have posed relatively few problems for their host communities.

A two-year memorandum of understanding with the town, she said, would give the association the official backing it needs in order to go out and effectively raise the $300,000 it will cost to construct the facility.

Councilor Bob Garland said he wanted more time to contact other communities with skate parks to find out for himself whether there should be a fence or supervision at the park. Fellow Councilor Christopher Walsh, who was just elected to the board last summer, said he wanted more time to learn about the history of the local proposal before he voted on a possible memorandum of understanding.

By a 4-2 vote, the council tabled the item until it meets on Oct. 4. Garland, Walsh and fellow councilors Jane Disney and Peter St. Germain voted in favor of tabling the item. Paradis and Council Chairman Ruth Eveland voted against it.

In other business, the council met late Tuesday in executive session to discuss in private what sort of leverage the town might have in making sure that the international ferry terminal on Eden Street, which is owned by Canadian firm Marine Atlantic and has not had regular ferry service since October 2009, remains a publicly controlled marine terminal. According to Town Manager Dana Reed, the council took no action on the issue after coming out of executive session.

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