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Skate Park Receives Support to Stay Open

Mimi Mehta and Mary Rohe are collecting signatures for a petition to save the skate park, only one within a 25-minute drive of Chatham Township.

In the weeks since Mary Rohe and Mimi Mehta appeared before the Chatham Township Committee and asked them to rebuild the Chatham Skate Park, the two have been hard at work collecting signatures for a petition to that same end.

Mehta and Rohe discovered the skate park was closed when, on separate occasions, they went to drop their children off at the park as summer ended. Signs on the park gate said the park was closed, but gave no explanation why.

The two later learned that the township's insurance provider advised the closing when structural damage was discovered in the park. The half-pipe shows visible cracks and other signs of wear and tear.

Department of Public Works Director John Pacelli said the skate park will need a new deck, fasteners and intense renovations, which could cost up to $100,000, or half the park's original 2003 construction cost.

Pacelli told the committee he believed attendance at the park had declined in recent years, but Mehta and her son Michael, a sophomore at Chatham High School, said they believe use has increased, especially among Chatham residents.

Rohe and Mehta released a statement asking anyone willing to help save the skate park to sign their online petition. As of Sunday, Oct. 14, there were 43 signatures on the petition.

Signators gave their hometowns as Roseland, Summit, South Orange, Jersey City, Livingston, Bayonne, Short Hills, Madison, Chatham Borough and Chatham Township.

"We believe that there may still be local interest in keeping this facility open.  Chatham Skate Park is unique in that it serves a non-traditional recreational need of our children and provides a safe, friendly environment to practice skateboarding and in-line skating," Mehta and Rohe wrote in a press statement.

The original cost of the park was about $200,000, which was raised partly through donations and partly from the township. "Funding from local citizens, businesses and organizations will be essential to this effort," Rohe and Mehta's press statement read in part.

The next-nearest skate parks are Livingston’s park and GardenSK8 Indoor Skatepark in Pine Brook, both about a half-hour drive from Mehta's home in Chatham Township.

Rohe and Mehta have also set up an email account where they are willing to answer questions and welcome other volunteers. Anyone interested can contact them at savechathamskatepark@yahoo.com.

TCG October 15, 2012 at 01:31 PM
Here's an idea...let's take the money the committee is getting by allowing T-mobile to put up a cell tower on the site of a playground and use some of it to fix the skate park.
Duncan Munchkin October 15, 2012 at 04:23 PM
They had already spent that pleasing the paddle tennis players. But since I see about 20 times as many skateboarders as I do paddle tennis players on any given day, they should probably give 20 times whatever they spent on Colony to fix the skate park.
Douglas Pitney October 16, 2012 at 12:09 PM
Here's a novel idea. How about those who have signed the petition help pay for the repairs and then continued maintenance of the skate park? Pool your desire, resources and knowledge to make it happen. Start by getting a proposal to complete the repairs so that you know exactly what needs to be done and how much it will cost. How do you do that? You meet with Township Committee members (source of approvals and funding), Department of Public Works officials (maintenance) and skateboarders (users) who have frequented the park and decide exactly what repairs need to be made. Be realistic about what needs to be done and what can be done. Find private sources, say donations from the those who signed the your petition, to fund at least half the project. Convince the Township Committee that advertising signs promoting local businesses is mutually beneficial for all parties involved. Then approach the Township Committee for the balance. Make it a community project and it will happen. Keep it an "I'm entitled" project and I'll be the first one in line to say "not now".
TCG October 16, 2012 at 01:31 PM
Where the hell did anyone say "I'm entitled?" Who is not being realistic? Why call for a proposal when the committe has already provided an estimate? Isn't a petition the first step in "poolin your desire?" What the hell are you talking about?
legalimmigrant October 18, 2012 at 12:17 AM
Turn the skate park into a putting green. Cheaper and more people will use it.

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