Chatham Township Administrator Tom Ciccarone said he has invited the township's insurance carrier to come inspect repairs made to the Chatham Skate Park in hopes the carrier will allow the park to reopen by Friday, Feb. 8.
"I don't see any reason why they wouldn't allow it to reopen, since we've fixed the problems that made it close in the first place," Ciccarone said.
Repairs were made by the township's Department of Public Works using material already in the township's possessions. The only cost to the township was for the personnel, Ciccarone said.
The repairs made were to the ramps and the skatelites, the top cover of the ramps.
The Chatham Township Committee also unanimously approved a resolution supporting the fundraising efforts of two local women, Mimi Mehta and Mary Rohe, who want to raise $15,000 for an acrylic coating for the park. This coating is specifically designed for the acrylic wheels found on skateboards and skates and has been used in Hillsborough and Edison, Mehta said.
Rohe and Mehta looked at other skate parks built around the same time as the Chatham Skate Park and how they have been maintained over the years. They especially looked at the skate park in Hillsborough, which was built at about the same time as the Chatham Skate Park but has not had the same amount of deterioration.
Ciccarone said the township already had a dedicated fund for the skate park from when it was built in 2003, and anyone who wished to donate funds could write a check to the township with the skate park in the memo line.
Mehta and Rohe also said they'd spoken to the Chatham Athletic Foundation, who said they were willing to help save the skate park.
Dozens of residents of Chatham Township, Chatham Borough, Madison, Florham Park and other surrounding municipalities went before the council to give testaments to the camaraderie and benefits the skate park offered to residents, young and old alike.
High school students also came before the committee and said they had started a petition at the school to save the park, and to start a skate team at the school. They said they had the support of one of the assistant principals and one of the hockey coaches.
Parents told the committee how the skate park provided a unique bonding opportunity. Fathers and sons, brothers, cousins all skated together, and everyone who spoke said those who used the park developed an etiquette among themselves--one of respect, support and praise for skills, and of self-policing those who broke the rules.
One woman from Madison who forgot to give her name said her son had Tourrette's Syndrome and autism. She was near tears as she described the park as one of the few places where her son could participate in a sport and receive praise from others for his skills. When it closed down, she said, he closed down, too.
Those who came to the meeting included Board of Education Member Lata Kenney and her 7-year-old son Kiran, and the two women who originally fundraised to open the skate park 10 years ago.
In October Mimi and Rohe started an online petition, which garnered 192 signatures by Jan. 22. Signatories include residents of the Chathams, Madison, Florham Park, Short Hills, Bernardsville, New Providence, Berkeley Heights and Watchung, as well as other states and countries.