June 24, 2018
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Rockland looks to bring back skateboard park

Stephen Betts | BDN
Stephen Betts | BDN
The Rockland Skatepark is in disrepair and the city is considering what to do for the facility.
By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff

ROCKLAND, Maine — A more than $200,000 skateboard park that was built through the effort of a group of youths 11 years ago has fallen into disrepair and the city said it wants to reach out to people in the community to keep it going.

“It’s a complete and utter eyesore,” Oceanside Principal Tom Forti said Thursday. “It’s a lawsuit waiting to happen.”

Forti said the condition of the skateboard park has gone downhill significantly in the past two years but even in his nine years at the high school it has not been kept up to the highest standards.

He said he expects a lot of money would need to be put into the complex to bring it back to a safe and nice looking skateboard park. He said it should not be used again until repairs are made.

The principal said he also has concerns because “there’s a lot of activity that doesn’t get monitored.”

There is also considerable litter, including cigarette butts, under the seating.

During a 2001 city council meeting to approve the lease with the school district, then City Attorney Greg Dorr advised the councilors that both the city and school would face less liability if there was no supervision.

The skateboard park is on the grounds of what is now Oceanside High School East in Rockland but is leased by the city of Rockland. The lease was approved in 2001 for an initial term of five years but it automatically renews each year unless one or both of the parties asks for it to end.

The lease allows for either side to end it with 30 days notice, but no one has asked to terminate the lease yet.

Rockland Recreation Director Rene Dorr said the recreation department has tried to maintain the facility over the years but he has been trying to arrange for another company to repair the park. He said that over the past years, the U.S. Navy has had crews work on it during ship visits to Rockland for the Maine Lobster Festival and that Lonza bioscience firm employees also have spent time doing repairs to the facility.

He pointed out that Rockland’s skateboard park lasted longer than the one in Camden.

Rockland City Manager James Smith, Dorr and Forti met Friday to discuss the park. Smith said the meeting went well.

“We want to reach out to the stakeholders and look for grants and other funds,” Smith said.

The city also wants to meet with the students and adults who are interested in the park on how to best manage it.

Last year, a group of students and high school teacher Ken Pride went before the city council and later met in March 2012 with city officials to come up with a plan to maintain the park. The students held a dance at the recreation center and also hat days at school to raise money for repairs. The money raised by the students remains in an account for when repairs are done.

The skateboard project was in the works for about four years by skateboard enthusiasts at Rockland District High School and by a representative of the Rockland Kiwanis before it was built in 2002. MBNA donated $200,000 to the project and the youths raised more than $7,000 from various fundraisers.

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