FALMOUTH – After seven years of fundraising, the Falmouth Skate Park Committee is preparing to break ground on a $300,000 new skate park on land near the old park at the Trotting Park Fields off Gifford Street.
They are hoping to break ground this fall or this winter and have the park completed by next summer.
Within the last year, the project has qualified for a number of large grants that will allow the project to happen, according to Dr. Keith Bleiler, chairman of the Falmouth Skate Park Association, which now has non-profit status so that donations are tax-deductible.
Bleiler, 45, is a skateboard enthusiast himself, as are two of his three children.
Bleiler said project organizers have projected the amount they need is $275,000 to $300,000 for “pie-in-the-sky, dream, Venice Beach-style concrete skate park.”
The committee has raised approximately $250,000 of the $300,000 through grants that Bleiler said is needed to build the park the committee wants, “the kind of custom, built in ground, concrete skate park that we need.”
To raise the additional money, Bleiler said the plan is for a donor program where people can purchase engraved bricks similar to those in front of Falmouth Public Library. The bricks cost $250 for a 4″ by 8″ brick or $350 for an 8″ by 8″ brick.
“This is our last push to raise some of these extra funds to make this space available for kids who aren’t involved in organized sports or prefer this action sport-style outlet,” Bleiler said.
The skate park can be used by not just skateboarders, Bleiler said, but also BMX bikes and skooters.
The group received a large grant from Community Preservation Act funding. The project falls under the recreation category of the Community Preservation Act. Funds used under the act also go for historic preservation, affordable housing and open space.
The project qualifies for the funding because they are using land adjacent to the old skate park. Previously, skate park organizers were told they did not qualify for the funds because they were told the project was a renovation and not a new project.
They have also received grants from the Lorusso Foundation, Kelly Foundation, Woods Hole Foundation, Cape Cod Five Foundation the Cape Cod Falmouth Fund and the Tony Hawk Foundation.
Bleiler explained why the skate park costs so much. “The old style parks were basically an asphalt slab with pre-formed concrete forms on them and you could get one of those put together for real short money back in the day,” he said. “But this style skate park was really not very popular from the get-go.”
He acknowledged it was a way for a town to get a skate park that cost around $100,000.
The skate park that Falmouth is planning has a longer life expectancy because the entire skate park is concrete. There are structures and features within the skate park that are technically engineered, “so you have perfect transitions.”
“You have features in it that are permanent and are not going to require any kind of long term maintenance. Plus this is bigger than your average style community New England skate park,” he said, adding that Falmouth’s skate park is on the low end of skate parks which can go to $2 to $3 million.
He said the Charles River Skate Park costs about $2.5 million and is similar to Falmouth’s park but larger.
He said both Wellfleet and Hingham have skate parks is similar to what Falmouth is planning: all concrete with larger bowls and street features, like benches and stair steps.
Falmouth skate park is also planned to have a “rain garden” with grass, bbq areas and picnic tables in the middle of the park.
Bleiler said they are hoping the bike path will connect from Trotting Park Road to the Shining Sea Bikeway.
“It’s an exciting avenue of outdoor recreation,” he said.
Bleiler said that the current park typically gets 10 to 20 kids at the park. On weekends, there are typically 20 kids there. In Hingham, the skate park is the most used piece of recreational space in their entire town, surpassing athletic fields and basketball courts.
“It’s open from dusk to dawn and is free,” he said.
Bleiler said he still enjoys skateboarding. His children are also involved. When they moved to Falmouth 10 years ago, they set to work to organize a project to construct a new park.
As for the old park, Bleiler said, “It’s really served its purpose well, but the time has come to get things changed up here a little bit.”
Bleiler said he got involved because kids wanted a new skate park but they needed help negotiating the town bureaucracy “and to put a positive slant on skateboarding.”
“These kids are athletes and they’re really not viewed as athletes but you just look at X Games or the Gravity Games and you can see the public perception is changing,” he said.
Two of Bleiler’s three children are also involved in skateboarding. His daughter does not skateboard, but his two sons, one who is a senior in high school and another in junior high school are both fans of the activity. The younger one enjoys BMX and free-style BMX riding and the older one is an avid skateboarder, Bleiler said.
“That’s really his first love. Every year he’s doing something I never imagined I could do,” Bleiler said.
He said he tells his sons that skateboarding will always be something they can enjoy. “They can enjoy this life-long, the way I have,” he said.