BRISTOL, Connecticut, U.S.A. — Skaters, bikers, and boarders won’t have to trek to neighboring towns or resort to practicing on curbs and city streets in Bristol much longer.
The city plans to build a new skate park within the next year or so, though final approval hasn’t been given and a location is not yet determined.
The park board recently approved the proposed skate park and put it on a list of future building projects slated for completion by 2007.
But Park Superintendent Ed Swicklas said he expects the skate park to be built this year or next year.
A lot of people in the town would use it, he said. “It’s a growing sport.”
Swicklas said the skate park will be a good alternative for the town’s extreme athletes, who currently have to resort to going to other town’s municipal parks or to the streets and vacant lots of Bristol to ride for free.
The park director said he was spurred to propose a skate park after reading the papers and seeing that other communities — such as New Britain and Farmington — had added skate parks to their own recreational offerings.
Details on the proposed Bristol skate park are still a little sketchy, but the park department estimates it will cost as much as $150,000.
Swicklas said he’s considering three spots in Bristol that could hold the skate park: Casey Field, Page Park across from Bristol Eastern High School and the Roberts property on Chippens Hill.
The dimensions of the park eyed by the city are about 80 by 120 feet, or about half the size of a regulation football field.
The skate park would include such equipment as a half pipe, a banker ramp, grind rail, tube kink, a large square ramp or tabletop, ramp bars and a big, 20-foot ramp, Swicklas said.
The park superintendent said there will be room for expansion, too.
The overall plan, he said, makes Bristol’s future skate park “a little bit better than average” when compared with the ones in other towns.
“It shouldn’t be much to maintain unless someone wrecks the place,” Swicklas said, since the park will be made mostly of concrete.
One detail that still needs to be worked out about the skate park is its supervision.
Swicklas said park commissioners haven’t decided on whether the skate park will be supervised or left alone with “no restrictions.”
He plans for the park to run three seasons of the year, “pretty much from April to November” and leave it open seven days a week.
If it’s decided that the park will be supervised, he said, it will stay open as late as 10 p.m. on weekends. Otherwise, the park will most likely stay open from dawn to dusk.
Swicklas said he hopes to have some supervision or schedule to the skate park because he’s worried that people on bikes, skateboards and inline skates using the park simultaneously could be a problem.
Asked what young people could do to keep the project moving along through government circles, Swicklas said teens could write in to newspapers, call councilmen and attend public meetings and voice their continuing interest in seeing the skate park.
Teens, said Swicklas, “are the voice of the city.”
And if a skate park is a bit extreme for your taste, the park department also plans an ice rink next winter.
The outdoor rink is expected to be built within the same time frame as the skate park, and will be open during the months of December through February.
The next step for the skate park is to win approval by the capital improvements project committee headed by Mayor Frank Nicastro. It will decide which city projects are carried out in the fiscal year that starts July 1.
The panel is likely to meet soon so young people who want to see a skate park should make sure the mayor and City Council hear from them soon.
Mike Nguyen is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International.