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Maple Street skate park revamp plans amping up in Manchester


MANCHESTER — Experts in the design and construction of skate parks are due in Manchester today for meetings with city engineers and skateboard enthusiasts about what is possible and what users want in a redeveloped city skate park on Maple Street.

XMVSkate, Inc. the non-profit entity formed to bring both physical improvements and improve the status of the Adam Curtis Skate Park has been developing tentative plans to upgrade the physical facility so that its popularity will eliminate problems that plague skate parks in other communities.

Experts with Artisan Skateparks of North Carolina and Pillar Design Studios will participate in meetings with city engineering and parks department leaders early in the day to get an idea of the physical limitations presented by the aging facility.

Then, in the afternoon, users will participate in a design meeting.

“We will brainstorm about what participants want,” said Jim DeStefano, organizer of XMVSkate.

Current goals include raising about $500,000 to refurbish or rebuild the park.

DeStefano said the group’s twin goals of making the park more visible while improving the skating experience will combine to make it a safer and more attractive facility.

“We want to build the likability for users so it will become self-policing,” Destefano said.

XMVSkate has been considering an assortment of potential designs for a covered facility that incorporates the adjoining community center as part of the skate park.

A fully enclosed facility may be beyond the anticipated budget, but organizers say they lean toward a pole-roof sort of covering that will allow use of the park through much of the year while making sure the activities are in public view.

“It’s hidden and that causes a lot of problems because of a block in the sight lines,” DeStefano said. “By relocating the building and incorporating it into the park, it can be improved.”

Destefano suggests replacing or altering the Regis Lemire Community Center, either with a new structure that allows a better view of the skate park, or by removing part of the complex used for storage.

“The blockage in visibility creates an environment where mischief can happen and not only during normal hours,” said Destefano, who said he is aware of very little vandalism on the part of skaters.

“I’ve brought my kids there a number of times and have never seen problems, I’ve never seen the kids disrespect the park,” he said.

Discussions with skateboarding enthusiasts have revealed that the park, constructed a decade ago, is outdated in terms of what skaters expect in a modern skate park. Over the years, cable television has taken to skateboarding as a sport. In turn, young participants have become eager to try the newest styles of skating that are accomplished at increasingly sophisticated facilities.

Organizers plan to launch a fund-raising drive later this year, and have said that users will be asked to take a stake in the park through a user or membership fee.

The two firms represented at today’s sessions are experienced with developing, designing and constructing skate parks in cities across the country. Designers will discuss with city engineers whether the existing park can handle an upgrade or whether years of deferred maintenance means the reconstruction needs to be more extensive.

The later session, from 2:30 - 6 p.m. at the park on Maple Street, gives the users a chance to tell the experts what they want.

“I think if it was a good skate park, kids would still use it,” Destefano said.

bsmith@unionleader.com

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