Could Rockville use a skate park?

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Rockville - posted Fri., Jun. 3, 2011
This rendering is a preliminary design of what a fairly simple skate park might look like in Rockville. Image courtesy of Jeff Hutton. - Contributed Photo

Would the youth in Rockville benefit from a skateboard park? That question was posed by Rockville resident Jeff Hutton at the meeting of the Rockville Community Alliance on May 31.

Hutton, who runs a landscaping business and has also been a substitute teacher, works with about 20 students in Vernon as part of a work/study program funded through a grant. He has been formulating the skate park idea as a project since early this year, and just recently helped bring it to a preliminary design phase.

While teaching some of the students about the interview process, he asked what they like to do in Rockville in their spare time. One young man who said he likes to skateboard said he also could not do that in Vernon, because he's been routinely given citations, or been kicked out of popular places to skate.

“They’re routinely kicked off of the nice granite steps in front of the library, and rightly so,” Hutton said, adding that what he learned is that the features of most skateboard parks resemble items in the urban and suburban landscape, such as steps, railings and bike racks.

"This doesn't come from me,” he said. “This idea comes from the kids. I let them educate me. I tried not to discourage them at all, [but] I told them how hard this would be. The lesson here is, if this is your idea, if this is that important to you, there's no reason you can't make this happen.”

Among the ideas brainstormed were that the park may likely be defiled by graffiti.

“I said, ‘Okay, how do we get around that?’” Hutton said. “One of the groups decided to have one of the whole back fences be nothing but art boards.” Local youth would be invited to submit ideas, and then create their own artwork at the site.

Hutton said he presented the idea to the Board of Education and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Mary Conway, all of whom endorsed the project.

He added that, although there is no specific site in mind for the park, a few ideas were thrown around, including Henry Park and some privately-owned vacant lots in Rockville, whose owners have not yet been approached with the idea.

Preliminary estimates for the cost to create the park are around $76,000, Hutton said, adding that he'd like to see the town or other organizations seek grant monies to cover the cost.

“I think the best way is a cooperative effort through private funding, grant money, and support from the town,” Hutton said.

The town of Plainville recently received a grant of $100,000 for a skate park.

“I think this is very valuable, especially because it comes from the young people,” Hutton said.

The next part of the process, Hutton said, is for students to present the idea to the Town Council, most likely at the community forum portion of an upcoming meeting.

“We're taking baby steps, and basically just presenting it to the public,” Hutton said.

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