Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXI, No. 15
 
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
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After Years of Waiting, Local Skaters to Have a Hand in Skate Park Design

Matthew Hersh

All it took was some funding and a commitment from a Princeton community apparently ready to fully embrace the sport of skateboarding.

This Saturday, the Princeton Recreation Department will host the first design workshop with the goal of building Princeton's first official skate park, slated for Princeton Township's Hilltop Park, off Bunn Drive across from the Princeton Community Village.

The estimated $250,000, 11,000-square-foot, poured concrete facility has long been on the radar of parents and children, because for years, Princeton has struggled for years with ways to handle an increasingly popular but loosely organized recreational activity. In towns without parks equipped to handle skateboards, obstacle courses include town squares, benches, and public stairs, not to mention the giant obstacle course that makes up the Princeton University campus.

But, if successful, a skate park should take care of much of that, according to Andrew Koontz, a Borough Councilman and president of the Princeton Parks Alliance, the group that worked with community leaders and parents to spearhead a fund-raising campaign following a $125,000 commitment from the Borough and Township.

"We should be encouraging this kind of activity, because it's extremely social," he said.

At Saturday's workshop, set to take place between 2 to 4 p.m. at the Suzanne Patterson Center behind Borough Hall, the Recreation Department along with the parks designer contracted for the project, SITE Design Group, hope to get a better sense of what local skaters want out of a park, as well as the community at large.

"Although we looked at award-winning designers, we felt that Site Design really was outstanding in involving community input and is on the cutting edge of designing hybrid type parks," said Katie Herlihy, program supervisor for the Recreation Department. Specifically, SITE Design specializes in skate park planning, design and construction services.

"When it comes down to the nitty-gritty of design and planning of what the park is actually going to look like, we're going to need a lot of input from different areas," she said.

While the subject of building a skate park in the Princetons has long been on some residents' radars, this latest effort stems from momentum gained last summer when Peter Morgan, a Montgomery resident, and Princeton residents Liza Peck and Janet O'Brien, were part of a leading citizen contingent involved in building a Princeton skate park. They addressed the parks alliance, mapped out survey methods, and, in November, oversaw a successful fund-raiser/skateboard -demonstration in the -parking lot at Princeton Township Hall.

The Princeton Recreation Department is still working out issues regarding security and insurance. If the park is supervised, it could be treated as a community pool: with a membership and annual fee.

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For more information on the design firm, visit www.sitedesigngroup.com.

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