Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 42
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
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Parks Alliance Awards $5,000 For Skate Park Beautification

Dilshanie Perera

The Princeton Parks Alliance, a non-profit parks conservancy, awarded $5,000 to the Princeton Recreation Department last Wednesday for additional landscaping at the new skate park being built at Hilltop Park.

The skateboarding facility will provide local skaters with a site on which to express their four-wheeled prowess. Former skateboarder and current program supervisor at the Princeton Recreation Department Ben Stentz hopes to have the park open by the end of 2008.

After a decade of discussion about a space for skateboarding, Mr. Stentz said that a recent county grant called “Mercer At Play” finally enabled its development. He subsequently consulted with hundreds of municipalities, skate park construction crews, and experts in order to determine how the facility in Princeton should be built.

“This is going to be all concrete, which is relatively unique for the East Coast,” Mr. Stentz said of the material used to create the skateboarding surfaces. A construction crew from California Skate Parks, which specializes in such recreational facilities, was laying some of the interior shapes on the site last Wednesday. “They refer to getting the transition areas right as an art form,” Mr. Stentz noted.

“I was a skateboarder, and where to skate was always an issue for kids,” Mr. Stentz said, adding that he hopes “that the kids will not only use the park, but also take ownership of it.”

After much deliberation and consultation with other municipalities across the country that have formal spaces for skateboarding, the Recreation Department decided to allow the skate park to be unsupervised in order to make the facility free to the users, according to Mr. Stentz.

Borough Council member and President of the Parks Alliance Andrew Koontz said that the site would serve a dual purpose. It will be “a recreational opportunity for kids who are skateboarders,” but will also be “a relief from skateboarding activity in places like Hinds Plaza.”

Elaborating on the nature of the county grant, Mr. Koontz explained that its purpose was to “fill a need that wasn’t being met” and was “specifically targeted to provide recreational opportunities to kids who fell through the cracks,” namely, those engaged in passive recreation as opposed to participating in team sports.

“The grant program was very forward thinking, because it encouraged communities to cooperate,” said Mr. Koontz. The Borough and Township governing bodies worked together with the Recreation Department and the Parks Alliance to secure the initial grant.

The gift from the Parks Alliance to the Recreation Department to enhance the landscape around the skate park will allow “parents to come and enjoy themselves while their children are skating,” said Mr. Koontz. “Bringing a bit of park to the skate park is a good idea.”

“This has real potential to be a healthy gathering spot,” envisioned Mr. Koontz, adding, “I’m looking forward to seeing it open.”

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