Sk8er dreams in Dartmouth

Joanie Veitch
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Skateboarders in Dartmouth soon won't have to travel to Halifax to get to a skate park.

Earlier this month, a sign went up at the former green gym park at the corner of Wyse Road and Windmill Avenue, across from the Dartmouth Sportsplex, declaring it the proposed site for a new skate park.

"Choosing the site was a pretty exhaustive process. We had eight or nine different locations... this one had a lot going for it and it was already zoned as a park," says Andy Sawler, a local realtor and the driving force behind the skate park initiative.

A facebook site called Dartmouth Skate Coalition – started by Sawler – has a variety of photos of skate parks as local skateboarders begin to dream what might be possible.

However, what will be possible will depend on how much money can be raised to build it, Sawler says.

"We're hoping to raise in the $500,000 to $600,000 range," he says.

Although she couldn't give a dollar amount, Coun. Gloria McCluskey – who has been working with Sawler and the city on the initiative – says there will be money in next year's budget for a Dartmouth skate park.

"We're hoping to get money from the province as well... it's a fantastic initiative, I think. There are so many kids who can't afford to do organized sports, this is something they could do that would get them outside being active in their community," McCluskey says.

Since the sign went up announcing the proposed skate park, McCluskey says she's received almost all positive responses.

"It's a great location with such good visibility. It's an excellent spot," she says.

While this initiative got going with a phone call from Sawler to McCluskey back in November 2011, Sawler's history in organizing for a skate park goes back a lot further.

In 1988, when he was just 15 years old, Sawler got a petition going for a skateboard park. His efforts resulted in an indoor half-pipe ramp that went in Bowles Arena in the summer months. At the time McCluskey was a Dartmouth alderman and remembers championing the initiative with council.

Due to problems with winter storage, that indoor park only lasted a few years. A concrete skate park would last a lot longer, Sawler says.

"This will be great for Dartmouth... we're hoping it could open as early as the fall of 2014. It's ambitious, but if we spread the word and raise lots of money, there's no reason we can't do it."

Organizations: Dartmouth Skate Coalition

Geographic location: Dartmouth, Halifax, Wyse Road Windmill Avenue

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