Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Skate Park Needs Signatures to Urge State’s Cooperation

Dani Zanoni performs at the site proposed for the Footbridge Skate and Arts Park. Photo by Joe Phalon.

They are not going to let the state skate on this one. Earlier this year, the organizers of the Footbridge Skate and Arts Park project determined that a portion of the skateboard site within Footbridge Park is owned by the state of New Jersey.

When contacted, the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), which has jurisdiction over the parcel, denied the request of the Blairstown Enhancement Committee, which is providing administrative services for the skate park project, to move forward on with its development.

The skate park organizers said the denial letter, dated October 24, “cited incorrect information and issues that are not relevant to this particular site.”

Now the skate park organizers are asking supporters—and any interested people—to sign a petition urging the NJDEP to reassess its position based on applicable details.

“Please tell the NJDEP you want them to engage in a thoughtful conversation with the Blairstown Township Committee regarding ways to make this happen,” said Evie Tilney, chair of the committee.

The petition must be signed by December 7. Tilney pointed out that there has been enthusiastic support for the project from local and state officials.

“We’ve met with Sen. Steven Oroho’s office and they are awesomely advocating on our behalf at a meeting on this date,” Tilney said. “We have the support of our elected officials, including the Blairstown Township Committee, so let’s tell the NJDEP what the people want.”

The skate park is envisioned for the western end of Footbridge Park, in and around the old coal bins left behind by the Susquehanna Railroad. The location forms a natural amphitheater, Tilney said, and plans are to adapt it to an area where outdoor music and other programs could be held. Gallery space would be available for local artists, and the plans call for improving accessibility and lighting in the area.

“It would really revitalize that part of Footbridge Park,” Tilney said.

The skate park proposal is part of an ongoing project of the Blairstown Enhancement Committee to make improvements to Footbridge Park. The coal bin area has been the site of several informal skate venues over the years, with ramps and half-pipes sometimes being constructed by local skateboarders.

Musicians and other artists often performed informally at the site.

Tilney said a first draft of the plans for the park are in progress and that they hope to have a survey followed by a formal design later this year.

To fund the project, expected to cost about $500,000, Tilney said the committee will be asking for grants from private donors and foundations. She said there are a number of foundations affiliated with manufacturers and promoters of skateboarding as a sport that make funds available.

A GoFundMe page has already raised about $11,000 toward the project in just a few months.

Joe Phalon
Joe Phalon, Contributing Writer
Contributing Writer

Joe was lured out of retirement by the opportunity to be a part of the Ridge View Echo. During a decades-long career in publishing and journalism, he has covered government on many levels from local school boards to the United States Supreme Court.

Along the way, Joe has worked at American Lawyer Magazine, The National Law Journal and The Record among other publications, and as the Press Officer of Columbia Law School. His work has been recognized with several first place awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the New Jersey Press Association.

Being part of the Ridge View Echo brings Joe back to his roots and the kind of news coverage he loves: Telling the stories of people and local communities as well as keeping an eye on how their money is spent by their government officials.

Joe lives in Blairstown with his wife Rose, the founder of Quilting for a Cause, and their two wiener dogs. He is an artist in his spare time.