by Dan McClelland
The main pieces of the Matthew Wilson Memorial Skatepark were moved into the village park tennis court complex in recent weeks on a temporary basis by the village electric and department of public works crews.
The skateboard park was created about 15 years ago by a committee spearheaded by then Mayor Mickey Desmarais and Dan McClelland and nearly $25,000 was raised to buy equipment for a large asphalt pad the village paved adjacent to the recently rebuilt restroom building.
In order for the Tupper Lake Youth Baseball and Softball Association and the Rotary Club to build the new Little League-sized field that was dedicated Saturday (see related story this week), the skateboard park pieces were moved last summer to behind the restroom building.
Village officials last year exacted a promise from project organizers that they would help re-situate the skateboard park once the baseball field was done.
On the day of the move the village crews used a large boomed vehicle to lift the half-pipes over the eight foot high fence and onto one side of the twin-courts. Trustees Ron LaScala and Clint Hollingsworth were there supervising the operation.
The two trustees are currently looking at how and where the new skateboard will be built.
Pointing to the area behind the restrooms and beside the park's basketball courts, Mr. Hollingsworth said any new pad for the skaters should be “roughly 60 feet by 90 feet.”
He said it will likely be bigger than the size of the single tennis court where the half-pipes were placed that morning.
Trustee LaScala discussed that morning a little of the village board's collective thinking with respect to the skatepark.
“Haji (Trustee David Maroun), Clint and I came down here a few days ago to try to figure out how we were going to replace it.”
Initially selected was the grassy area beside the basketball courts. “We want to get the kids off Park Street and off the high school grounds. They like to skate at night...and with the lights right here, it satisfies them!”
He said he has made it a point in recent weeks to stop and buttonhole young skaters for their ideas.
“We don't have a lot of tennis players here right now,” he said, explaining the decision to temporarily use the space for the skaters.
He said he would actually like to see the park situated permanently on the tennis complex, with an eye to building new courts somewhere else the park.
For now, however, a fence could be erected to separate the one court from the other one, with the skaters using one court, he speculated.
That idea, he said, does enjoy the support of some of the members of the village board.
The surface of the two courts is now pitted and bumpy, which makes it fine for boarders, but not tennis play. Grass is growing in some cracks. The imperfections which currently exist there, “make it just like the street where many boarders like to ride now,” Mr. LaScala commented.
The side where the pieces were placed is the worst of the two sides, the trustee noted.
He said that even if the two courts are kept for tennis, a major resurfacing is needed soon.
The reason the trustee likes the tennis court area for the skaters is that it is clearly visible from Demars Blvd. should there be an accident or mischief.
“I would really like the board to consider taking this half for our new park as opposed to spending all that money building a new place over there,” he said pointing to the grassy undeveloped section.
“We could put our money into a new tennis court or courts, and kill two birds with one stone!”
“There are cheaper solutions to all our problems and this is one,” he said of his idea.
He and Mr. Hollingsworth admitted they have also been thinking about parking as these new althletic venues open in the park and the need for more of it.
The space currently envisioned for the new skate park might be better used for parking for all those parents who will be at the Little League field watching their children compete, Mr. LaScala thought.
Both leaders figured too some of the village's current waterfront revitalization grant monies could be used to resurface the one tennis court and erect a fence between the two spaces.
They said that if local pressure builds to add another tennis court that can be done in the future too.
“We need feedback,” encouraged Mr. Hollingsworth.
They gave their colleague, David Maroun, credit for the idea of moving the skatepark inside the tennis courts for now, if not forever.
Mr. Hollingsworth added the one side of the tennis court area has plenty of room for more pieces of equipment.