April 18, 2014

Let the skating begin

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Williston skate park opens to the public

By Greg Duggan
Observer staff

After years of delays while money kept being funneled elsewhere, the town finally has a skate park of its own.

Installed behind Williston Central School about a month ago by David Wood, owner of Talent Skatepark in South Burlington, the park contains a quarter pipe, bank ramp, three ledges and a planter box.

“It’s hard and challenging. I just learned how to do this today,” Keenan Reinsborough, 7, said at the skate park earlier this week, demonstrating how to ride a scooter up, and then down, a quarter pipe. “I believe you’re supposed to go up and turn around.”

Reinsborough and his twin brother, Kai, of Richmond, were both riding scooters around the park on Monday afternoon. The boys’ mother, Jean Reinsborough, said the two go to school in Williston and have enjoyed using the park since it opened, even though they don’t skateboard.

Of the half dozen or so kids using the park on Monday, only one had brought a skateboard. And that youngster, Liam Reiner, 8, was riding a scooter. Reiner’s mother, Susan Reiner, said she used to take her son to parks in Burlington and Colchester.

“I’m really happy Williston has something accessible,” she said. “We just found out Talent put this in. It’s kind of a word of mouth thing. One kid told my son (about it).”

Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Finnegan said the park cost about $5,000, half of which came from a state grant the town received in 2003. But with other necessary parks improvements continually cropping up, the town couldn’t find the matching funds until this year.

“We’ve been overextended in that (budget) item in parks improvement, due to vandalism or whatever,” Finnegan said. “It’s not a big budget. We tend to be up against the line. This year we had the money.”

Other money, Finnegan said, went towards reengineering the baseball field behind Williston Central School.

“Kevin Finnegan and I had been discussing (the park) for several years. Finding a place to put it, space in the budget to pay for it. It finally all came to be this fall,” Wood explained.

Finnegan said the park was a response to requests from kids, but also aims to benefit the town as well.

“From a practical standpoint, we saw a lot of abuse of our equipment, like benches, with kids dragging them out and railing on them,” Finnegan said. “This is a way to keep their enthusiasm focused in an appropriate way.”

Susan Reiner said kids of all ages have been using the park together. At this point, guidelines are lax. Asked if rules will govern use between skateboards and scooters, Finnegan said, “I don’t think we’ve gotten that far. It’s open to kids. If we start seeing conflict, we’ll look at making a policy.”

Yet for all the park’s novelty, residents will need to enjoy it in the immediate future, before temperatures drop below freezing and the town converts it to another type of skate park – an ice skating rink.

“Within the next couple of weeks we’ll have the highway department come lift (the equipment pieces) off and store it behind the field house. Once the weather is cooperative, we’re freezing,” Finnegan said. “We’ll shoot to have the ice open for winter break for the kids.”

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