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Hundreds sign Nashua skate park petition


NASHUA - Continuing with their quest to build a new skate park before the one on Bridge Street is demolished, skateboarding enthusiasts last week presented the mayor with a petition.

Spearheaded by Linda Vickery, who is known by city skaters as "Mama Vicker," the petition has so far gathered about 1,270 signatures. The online petition seeks to have a new park built before the David W. Dean Skateboard Park is razed to make way for a major development project on Bridge Street.

On Friday, Vickery dropped the petition off at Mayor Donnalee Lozeau's office at Nashua City Hall.

"I'm really passionate about this. I feel like I need to do something," Vickery said recently. "My son is a skater, and those boys are like family. Skateboarding is not taken seriously, but it is a society, and it is a way of life that should be protected."

The original goal was to gather 1,000 signatures, but with that threshold crossed, the new goal is 2,000 signatures in support of the construction of a new park before the existing one is destroyed.

To help make it a reality, the Nashua Skatepark Relocation Committee has been formed, and will meet for the first time at 7 p.m. Thursday at City Hall. Earl Verrier, manager at Eastern Border in Nashua, is sitting on the committee. He said Monday that a handful of potential sites have already be considered, and more are being floated.

"We are still not clear on the funding and how much money will be available, but I am very optimistic that the new park is going to be great," said Verrier. "A lot of people were definitely disappointed when news broke out about this, and everybody wants to know where we stand. There is a lot of support out there."

The David W. Deane Skateboard Park was built in 2000 for about $120,000, and is quite popular throughout New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

However, the city previously contracted with Renaissance Downtowns to develop the 26-acre parcel where the park is housed on Bridge Street. The group hopes to break ground in the fall on a major housing and retail development project that includes a waterfront promenade near the Nashua and Merrimack rivers.

Plans for the Bridge Street development project have already been drafted and will be reviewed by the Nashua City Planning Board on Thursday.

Brian Fiske, another committee member and Eastern Border employee, praised the existing skate park in Nashua.

"One of the great things about the park is that it doesn't seem to bother anybody. It is kind of in a no man's land - out of sight and out of mind where we are not bothering anyone," said Fiske. "We want to do this right, and we want to find the right location where we are welcomed by neighbors and where there will be no complaints and no conflicts."

The new park will not sit empty, Fiske said, adding there will be at least 25 skaters there at a time.

"This is the kind of thing that can change a person's life, and there are scores of kids invested in this," he said.

The existing park was named after Deane, a city alderman, who is also active with the newly formed committee. Use of the outdoor skate park on the eastern side of Nashua is free and includes an 11-foot deep traditional bowl that is vertical all the way around, along with a street course, ledges, rails, grind bars and fun box.

khoughton@newstote.com

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