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Skatepark expands thanks to donations

BRISTOL – Over the past summer a crew at the Hub teen center in Bristol has been busy expanding the skatepark, which is used by skateboarders, inline skaters, and riders of scooters and BMX bikes from around the five-town region and beyond. Thanks to the donation of many ramps and features from the town of Hinesburg and the donation of time and services from many local businesses and organizations, the skatepark has doubled in size.
The Hub will host a grand reopening of the skatepark this Saturday, Sept. 18, that will feature a skate competition that is expected to draw boarders not only from Addison County, but from other parts of the state, as well.
Both youth and adult skateboard competitions will take place beginning at 1 p.m. Registration for the competition begins at 9 a.m. Festivities will also feature screening of new skate films, including one that features skateboarders from around Vermont, as well as other surprises.
The event is the culmination of more than a year of work to improve and expand the skatepark, which Jim Lockridge, director of the Hub and skatepark, said has been long hoped for.
“A big skatepark was always part of the plan,” he said.
The expansion will not only please the kids who use it, but, with anywhere from 20 to 50 youngsters of all skill levels using it some days after school, it should be safer, Lockridge pointed out.
“You want a park where people aren’t getting hurt,” he said, “and it’s been pretty crowded at times.”
The new ramps came to Bristol and were put in place thanks to the generosity of many groups and individuals. It all started when the town of Hinesburg last year offered the ramps from its closed skatepark to the Hub for free. A construction company working in Hinesburg then volunteered to haul the ramps to Bristol.
A forklift from Martin’s Hardware lifted some donated picnic tables from the trucks that transported them from Burlington, and a crane from Brown’s Welding moved the ramps into place. Autumn Harp donated 55-gallon drums to be used for trash and recycling cans. Gravel was donated by the asphalt contractor.
How’d the Hub get so much free stuff?
“We’re just not shy about asking,” Lockridge said.
The Hub also raised money from many sources, including the Bristol Recreation Club, Merchants Bank, the United Way of Addison County, Vermont Coalition of Teen Centers, Neat Repeats, Vermont Community Foundation and other local sources.
Bryn Paul coordinated the re-construction of the park, including a lot of hands-on redesign of some of the ramps and rails to create new features to entertain and challenge the skaters and bikers, Lockridge said. One of the popular new features, which kids are calling “Chinabank,” offers BMX bikers a ramp up to a long catwalk and a ramp back to the ground.
Addition of another ramp placed back-to-back with the old backstop ramp in the center of the park allowed Paul to take down that backstop and create a big, central feature that slopes in two directions.
One side of that central feature now sports the words “SK8 STR8,” which Burlington artist known as “Tooth” spray-painted in vibrant colors. Lockridge explained that this is a drug-free slogan familiar to skaters.
Paul also is working to box in some of the ramps to prevent teens from using the spaces for smoking. This all fits into the overall mission of the Hub to provide young people with a positive, healthy environment to relax, while learning and growing.
“As a staff, we’ve developed a policy to steer kids away from mature language and tobacco,” Lockridge said.
The overall plan for improving the skatepark has a long-term budget of about $32,000, and the Hub has spent about $10,000 so far, most of it on materials.
Lockridge said the cost of the upgrade to Bristol taxpayers has been $0.
“The town has given the Hub the ability to open its doors and run with a staff of one and a half people,” he said. The nonprofit Bristol Recreation Club allows the Hub to use the land and building. Now the Hub has also been reaching out to groups at Mount Abraham Union High School to see how it can be of service. One way it does that is by hosting the regular Saturday morning team breakfasts for the Mount Abe varsity football team.
There are still lots of details of the project that need to be completed. There is a “spine and stairset” feature yet to be constructed, some landscaping, and a public address system so that music can be piped from the Hub out to the skatepark (“Otherwise, kids sometimes pull their cars up to the park and blast their stereos, which can lead to some of that inappropriate lyrics and language,” Lockridge said).
But generally, he and the kids who use the park are psyched about all that’s been achieved over the summer.
“This is a fantasyland for teenagers,” Lockridge said.
Reporter John McCright is at news@addisonindependent.com.

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