BERLIN – Town leaders reaffirmed their commitment to building a skate park during this week’s discussion of Berlin Falls Park.
The need for a skate park in Berlin came up throughout the heated debate at Monday’s council meeting regarding a citizen-driven campaign to rename Berlin Falls. Afterward, Councilman Thom Gulyas assured the residents in attendance that a skate park remained a top priority for the town.
“I know a number of us are pushing on it, unfortunately it just takes time,” Gulyas said.
Throughout his presentation of a petition in support of renaming Berlin Falls Park in honor of a retired mailman, resident Bill Todd alluded to the town’s need for a skateboard park. He referenced the children who can often be seen skateboarding and riding their bikes down Berlin’s streets and sidewalks.
“We don’t need any more of our youth getting hit,” he said.
Other residents in attendance also spoke in favor of a skateboarding facility.
“We really do need something for the children to do,” resident Matthew Amey said.
While Mayor Gee Williams was critical of Todd’s effort to rename the park, he agreed that a skateboarding facility was something the town could use.
“It’s one of the highest priorities,” he said.
According to Williams, it is something the town will pursue when the time comes. First, he said, a park coordinator needed to be hired and a plan for the park needed to be developed. Williams said that though town officials had hoped to have a coordinator hired by now, they had yet to find someone qualified for the position.
“Instead of meeting an artificial deadline, it’s more important to get the right person to get the right start,” he said.
Williams went on that while it was clear the community wanted a skate park, it wasn’t something that could simply be built immediately.
“You don’t go putting a skate park in the middle of 68 acres,” he said.
Williams says the park’s ponds, streams and existing buildings have to be taken into account. He’s envisioning public meetings and a concept plan for the property before it’s developed. He stressed it was important to come up with “a very conducive plan that is good for the next several decades if not generations.”
Gulyas said he remembered well the night dozens of local children had come to council chambers to make their case for a skateboard park. He reminded the crowd Monday that while officials supported the concept of a skateboard park they were simply being cautious because they’d be spending taxpayer money to build it.
“In your business, my business, we get to spend our own money,” he said. “Sitting up here we’re spending your money so we don’t have the opportunity to make a mistake.”