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Ironing Out Wrinkles in the Proposed Urban Skate Plaza

By Kerri Provost

April 25, 2013

Not enough charrettes are led by professionals in flannel and denim.

An earnest discussion about the direction of the skatepark planned for a section of the New Ross, County Wexford Park was able to take place this week thanks to the down-to-earth nature of the designer and builder, along with the inclusion of those who will be directly impacted — skaters.

Mike McIntyre and Kanten Russell from Stantec/Who Skates? presented the plans for a space to be used by skateboarders and bikers, asking for feedback, of which they got plenty. Questions came from primarily teens and young adults: Will the performance stage have shade? Will the police be told to back off? Why is part of the park flat and wide open? Can we tell people about this?

Items beyond the reach of the design team were handed over to members of the Skateboard Task Force who had a better understanding of potential programming and legal issues. Park visitors were told that rules will be established and posted; then the police would be informed about what they will be allowed to enforce. If an area of the park is deemed off limits for skating or painting, then the police will be able to address that.

It was unclear what the hours of operation would be, as this is not a City park exactly; Hartford leases the space from the CT DOT because the park is situated directly above I-84. The actual skatepark design will need approval by the CT DOT, which depending on who you ask, will be passed right through or stalled eternally. Technically, there is no change to the park’s usage, but there could be balking at the addition of weight. What serves as the roof of I-84 has a weight limit of 800 pounds per square foot. The proposed skatepark would weigh, at most, 200 pounds per square foot.

The skatepark’s design had a lukewarm reception, but McIntyre and Russell repeatedly said their plan was by no means final and adjustments could still be made to make skaters and bikers happy, so long as the suggestions fit the budget. Adding a permanent canopy to the performance stage — one request made during Tuesday’s meeting — would cost thousands of dollars, something that would mean reducing skate features. The few pushing for a shade structure seemed appeased by the suggestion that a temporary canopy be borrowed during events so that no funds would be moved away from items like rails or the volcano feature.

A goal of this project is to incorporate the arts, which is why a stage is part of the plans. Those using the park would be responsible for any programming they would like, such as hip hop festivals or skateboard competitions.

No timeline was given for how long it would take before seeing completion of the park.

Reprinted with permission of Kerri Provost, author of the blog RealHartford. To view other stories on this topic, search RealHartford at http://www.realhartford.org/.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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