With the obliterated Cruft Block in the background, Fallon O'Brien stands at the old skate rink on Monday. She is working with others to refresh the spot. O'Brien hopes the area can become both an outdoor skate boarding venue and ice skating rink. She said the revitalization focuses on bringing the community together.
Darin Wipperman/Littleton Courier. (click for larger version)
September 18, 2013BETHLEHEM — Several people are developing a plan to bring back the town skating rink. The spot is just south of the town basketball courts on an existing rink foundation. On Monday afternoon, Fallon O'Brien spoke about the project's goals.
O'Brien, an artist, aspiring comedienne, and assistant manager at Ragamuffins, said much work remains to bring the project to life. Nonetheless, she has confidence that a good design can be created that will earn the town's support. "I felt the time was right," she said, about bringing the park's revitalization forward.
O'Brien believes that a refurbished skating area can do a lot to bring the community together. She sees a busy facility with skateboarders, parents, live music, and colorful flowers in warmer months. "I want it to really thrive with art and bands . . . while the kids skate," she said. A gazebo might be in the mix, as well.
Getting younger people moving is another important part of the park's planned rebirth. O'Brien believes the community can "create a place for the kids to come and be safe." She added that skateboarding and ice-skating are excellent ways for children to stay active and build important life skills.
O'Brien suggested that the old skate rink foundation has seen better days. This contrasts, she said, with the great basketball courts adjacent to the rink.
The effort to improve the old skating area has benefited from several devoted individuals, O'Brien said. Brad Shedd and Erik Becker lead the charge with her. O'Brien wished to thank Rhienna Miscio, town recreation director, for her interest in the idea as well.
The group is interested in "beautifying the public realm," O'Brien said.
Shedd was involved in creation of the Factory Teen Center skate park in Littleton. That indoor facility draws skateboarders from several communities.
Miscio has been developing a proposal to use half of the old skate area's foundation for ice skating. O'Brien's group is focusing on creation of a skateboarding proposal for the other half of the foundation.
O'Brien noted that Dave Harkless, owner of Littleton Bike and Fitness, is another supporter. "He has been a big help with all of this," O'Brien noted.
Along with working on design issues, the park group has a fundraiser planned. Their Skate, Rattle, and Roll event will be at the Colonial Theatre on November 2 from noon to 9 p.m. O'Brien said five bands will perform. There will also be a silent auction, food, and tea. Tickets are $10, which will go toward skate park funding.
O'Brien has received input from the North Country Council as well as Who Skates, a design company in Maine. The Bethlehem group plans to have three possible park designs ready for the November 2 Colonial fundraiser.
Who Skates (www.whoskates.com) designed the new park in Lyndonville, Vt., O'Brien said. The company has 25 years of experience in consulting, design, and construction. After the design is finalized, O'Brien said a formal presentation to the Board of Selectmen will be made. She has discussed her preliminary ideas with the selectmen already.
O'Brien said that the new park would be made of concrete. She expects the design ideas to offer Bethlehem a "state of the art" facility.
A new skate park can be a significant investment. Costs vary based on site conditions and the park's size. Who Skates provides examples on its website. Large jobs can top $300,000, but smaller facilities can be about $40,000 to $50,000. O'Brien believes the final cost of the Bethlehem project would be on the low end of the Who Skates range.
The Bethlehem skate park group has a Facebook page. Go to https://www.facebook.com/BethlehemSkatePark.