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Bethlehem Skate Park gets a boost from VFW Auxiliary

The Bethlehem Skate Park Association accepts a grant donation from the Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary in Littleton.  Pictured from left to right are project organizers Nick Storella and Bill Keiler with VFW Auxiliary President Tina Greenlaw and treasurer Steve Pickens. (Photo by Jenny Monahan) (click for larger version)
March 16, 2017
LITTLETON—The Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary recently provided a generous donation to the Bethlehem Skate Park Association.

VFW Auxiliary President, Tina Greenlaw, said the $1,000 donation was a grant from the national Veterans of Foreign Wars organization, and is designed to promote community involvement.

Greenlaw said that the skate park project was one that had been noted as actively holding fundraising events and having good community involvement, making it a worthy cause for receipt of the grant.

The skate park project got started back in 2013, but didn't get the go ahead from the town until just over a year ago, when the town's select board approved the conceptual presentation by organizers Bill Keiler and Nick Storella.

Both Keiler and Storella are lifelong skaters, but finding a place to do it when they were kids was a challenge.

They were fortunate that a group of parents in the community got together and built a half-pipe on their private property to give them somewhere to skate.

But that was 30 years ago, and it's still a challenge to find places to skate, with many communities banning skateboarding on town streets and sidewalks.

For the skate park project, the White Mountains School had already donated a half-pipe to the cause, and the town allowed for division of their existing ice skating rink to site the skate park, for the multi-purpose uses of skate boarding, BMX riding and scootering.

Since then, the association has held a number of fundraisers to get the park up and running, and is now focusing their efforts on building a concrete park.

Keiler and Storella say seeing the many people that utilized the park this past summer and fall reinforces their goal to further the development of the park, and they love the recreational addition to their community.

Greenlaw and the skate park association both agree that providing opportunities for recreation is important to the health of area youth.

Greenlaw said, "We chose the skate park because it is promoting a safe and healthy avenue for the youth of the community--Not all children are group sport inclined.  The sport of skate boarding demands discipline, athletic agility, and many hours of practice to become proficient. These kids are self-motivated to achieve their personal best."

Keiler feels that programs like the skate park offer both physical and social benefits to the community's youth.

"Giving kids something to do, not only helps keep them out of trouble, but offers them ways to exercise outdoors while socializing with likeminded people," he said.

The association hopes to begin construction of the concrete park this summer. With the help of volunteers, they've already built some components and are still getting their fund base together for the more major aspects of the project.

Keiler said, "We are so grateful for the donation from the VFW Auxiliary, and for Tina Greenlaw reaching out to us-- Their money brings us closer to fulfilling our dream of building a long lasting, mostly maintenance free, concrete park." 

He said their only a few thousand dollars away from achieving their goal, and they're hoping their Second Annual Bethlehem Skatepark Fundraiser, which will be held at the Colonial Theatre on June 2, will put them over the top.

The event will feature several bands, art auctions and raffles.

Keiler said the community involvement and support has been tremendous, and seeing how frequently the park is frequented is an inspiration.

He said, "Seeing the kids out there every day having fun makes me love Bethlehem that much more. I can't imagine doing this anywhere else. "

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