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Hudson committee to weigh options for skate park

Union Leader Correspondent

September 15. 2013 8:11PM

HUDSON — A citizen’s committee will be formed to determine the future of Hudson’s shuttered skate park, selectmen decided last week.

During the Sept. 10 meeting of the Board of Selectmen, members voted unanimously to form the new committee, which will research the feasibility of reopening the park in time for the 2014 summer season.

The skate park, located off Central Street, has been closed since mid-summer, when selectmen opted to temporarily shutter the park in response to rising complaints of vandalism and other illegal activity.

In August, selectmen agreed the park would remain closed until further notice after hearing from citizens and the Public Works and the Recreation departments.

Town officials said it would probably cost around $35,000 to bring the skate park back to its original glory.

The Recreation Department budgets $500 annually for the park’s upkeep — a number that’s not nearly enough to address the ongoing problems

Over the past month, about a dozen residents expressed interest in serving on a citizen’s committee, Selectmen Ben Nadeau said last week.

“As much as some of the selectmen are interested in closing the park, I think we could make it very successful again,” Nadeau said. “The key would be having proper management, regular cleanups and a dedicated committee.”

The park was built about a dozen years ago with the best of intentions, Recreation Director David Yates said, though over the past couple of years incidents at the park have escalated.

“The staff can only do so much,” Yates said. “I do think security is a big factor.”

Selectman Roger Coutu agreed.

“Historically, it was a beautiful park and in the beginning there were ongoing events there,” Coutu said. “But three years ago, when we saw serious vandalism there, this was a needless expense and a nightmare for the highway department.

Following that vandalism incident, town officials installed a security camera on the premises, but a short time later the camera itself fell to vandals and the park saw further damages.

Coutu said he’d “wholeheartedly support” a citizen’s group wanting to conduct private fundraising to bring the park back to its former glory but warned that the vandals would likely strike again,

“That would be a third time and a third strike,” he said. “And if it happens again, this selectman would vote in favor of permanently closing the park.”

Road Agent Kevin Burns said he wouldn’t recommend pouring further taxpayer dollars unto the park, but noted that the park might be monitored more actively if citizens had a vested interest.

“Maybe this way better care will be taken,” Burns said.

The committee will be formed during an upcoming selectmen’s meeting in hopes of devising a fundraising plan sometime before the year ends.

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