Feb 03, 2012 Neil Benjamin Jr. Uncategorized
T-shirt and hoodie prices were slashed in half. The slogan “It’s coming,” believe it or not, is already outdated.
And that’s music to the ears of Eastwood neighborhood skateboarders.
On Tuesday evening in the Huntington School Cafeteria, the brains, brawn and ‘boarders behind the project informed the public just what’s up with the plans to build a skate plaza in Huntington Park, just a block from the school.
“As many of you know, I can bring skateboarding into any conversation,” said Judy Lewis, a member of the Eastwood Neighborhood Association’s Skate Park Research Committee.
The comments were made in front of a diverse audience that included parents, residents and skateboarding thrill-seekers to open the meeting. In the back of the cafeteria sat a coat rack with three t-shirts and a hoodie. Because the skate park is moving along, the “It’s coming” slogan, now that the plans are close to being put in place, is becoming obscure, prompting the sale.
The committee was formed in 2005 after some James Street businesses and churches expressed interest in helping build a place for local skaters to hang in a safe environment. It began with just seven members; that number has almost quadrupled to 25 today.
Over the last six-and-a-half years, more than $210,000 has been raised for the project, with $150,000 of it coming from a New York state grant, of which $50,000 was matched by Syracuse. The Tony Hawk Foundation awarded a $5,000 grant, while the rest was raised by the committee through various fundraisers and t-shirt sales.
Glen Lewis, of Syracuse Parks Planning and Developing, was thrilled with the attendance of about 90 people for the meeting.
“This is an amazing turnout,” he said, looking around the room. “Everyone is to be applauded. This is a total community effort, and it shows through the continued interest of those involved.”
The grassroots effort has gained much steam since the beginning. After rifling through multiple ideas in terms of park design, the committee settled upon a streetscape style. Instead of building a park just for skaters and bikers, the committee felt it wise to also cater to other groups, which undoubtedly helped the process grow.
During the seasons of nice weather, it was thought that classes could be held there in the morning, “long before the skaters are up,” as it says on the Eastwood Neighborhood Association’s website. The site describes the location as peaceful, making it a solid spot for Tai Chi Chih classes, an increasingly popular activity.
Streepscape may not sound familiar to you in terms of a skate park. In simple terms, the area will resemble a strip mall without the mall, meaning there will be concrete steps, railings and even sitting area. The collective voice of the skateboarding community around here has made it clear this is the desired style.
In a recent press release sent out by Lewis, the research committee says its role “continues to be to give the skateboarders a voice in the design and construction process.”
“It’s perfect because it will give other groups in the community a chance to use it, so it won’t be just for skateboarders,” Lewis said. “It won’t look like Onondaga Lake Skate Park.”
The committee has explored more than 12 locations, some in secluded area and some more metro. Sunnycrest Park was checked out, as well a few other areas. Lewis said Huntington Park was the perfect place. She said a man tried to convert the park into a skate park back in the 1980s.
So far, the group has held many fundraisers in different forms, including a few SK8 Jams.
“It’s a way to get the community together, and maybe even help kids become more active,” Lewis said. “There is no obesity problem in the skateboarding community. It’s the apples, bananas and strawberries that get eaten first.”
Neil Benjamin Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.