Focus on fundraising at Skateboard Park

MANCHESTER - All it takes to turn an idea from concept to reality is a group of dedicated individuals, drive and a little luck. Right now, some Manchester residents are using this formula to try and get a new skate park built in the Rec Park.

Patty Eisenhaur, a member of a committee of community volunteers working to get the new skate park going, said this pro cess started about a year ago, when the new Park House was being built. She said that construction was going to impact the park.

"It was mostly a group of parents and skaters that came together and met with the town," she said. "We wanted to do more for the park and assessed what we had in terms of park construction."

Eisenhaur joined the group as the mother of two sons who enjoy skating. To her, the skatepark - where youth can come and go as they please, burning off energy - is a great outlet the community needs.

"The skatepark is free with no restrictions," she said. "They can come during a lunch hour, after school or stay all day on the weekends. It's a great alternative to staying home and getting bored."

The current skate park has ramps and features built out of wood, which has become weathered and work down from use. The skate park the group hopes to open is one made of concrete and metal, more durable materials.

Eisenhaur said the group has a conceptual design for a park that will become an actual design soon. The design will be created by Who Skates, a firm that has designed parks all over New England and New York City. To help pay for the rendering and plan, the group has been fundraising.

"We wanted to do our fundraising in chunks...break it down and make it tangible," she said. "Last year at town meeting money was appropriated for the skate park. If raise $50,000 the town will match up to $50,000."

So far, they have raised roughly $3,800 between a film screening, street fest and an event at The Perfect Wife, she said. Now that the group has pulled off a few events and has become more visible, Eisenhaur said they hope to have more events, like having local artists decorate skate decks [the board the skater stands on] and auctioning them off.

Along with private fundraising, Eisenhaur said the group will be applying for a Tony Hawk Foundation grant, as well as others to help get the park built.

Bill Strecker, one of the skaters involved in the group, said his ultimate goal is to see the park come to fruition and become a resource for the community. He has been skating for 20 years and wants to be a role model for younger skaters in town.

"It's not all about graffiti, or being out on the street," he said. "It's a positive influence...skating, that outlet, a skate kept me focused, it kept me off the couch watching TV."

Strecker, who is a graphic designer, said skateboarding actually introduced him to what would become his career. He started out designing skate decks.

He wants the park to be well rounded and accessible to all levels of skaters. The plan he and others have on the committee is a sort of skate plaza, designed to look more like a city street than a bowl shape. It will hopefully include ramps and transitions, as well as landscaping and potentially functional sculpture, he said.

"Skate parks are kind of destination places," he said. "When I travel, I always know where the nearest skate park is."

He said he wants Manchester's park to include a distinctive feature to draw skaters from other places to come and skate, something they will recognize instantly as town.

"We can get a little more notoriety and bring this thing to the next level," he said.


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