Town shows support for skate park

Dave Mathieson
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AMHERST - Stray skateboarders, like stray cats, are hard to herd and corral, but give them a bit of catnip in the form of ramps, rails and ledges and they quickly transform into pack animals.
That fact became clear last Thursday as a quick count revealed 60 skateboarders and BMX riders, and at least that many spectators, coming from far and wide to strut their stuff in the parking lot behind the Tantramar Theatre.
The large crowd came out in support of a proposed skate park for the Town of Amherst.
"The response was overwhelming," said town councillor Robert Bird, who is in charge of the Amherst skate park initiative.
"The big thing a lot of people were wondering was how many skateboarders are out there and this is the first opportunity we've had to put them in a pile to see how many there actually are.
"There were easily 100 people out there this afternoon and most of them were skating."
Amanda McInnis, the youth retention coordinator for the Cumberland Regional Economic Association, helped organize the event.
"All along people were sort of questioning how many skateboarders and BMXers would use a skate park and this helps quantified the number and proved there is a lot of support out there for a skate park," said McInnis.
The skateboarders rode in the parking lot from 4-6 p.m., then moved inside the Tantramar Theatre for a design workshop, where they joined forces with LANDinc landscape architect Bill Gurney.
The goal is to design a skate park unique to Amherst.
Skateboarder Chris Baxter thought a plaza style skate park would best suit the needs of Amherst skateboarders.
"A plaza skate park is where everything opens up and progresses down from the highest level to the lowest level," said Baxter, 14.
Baxter's friend, Marcus Gogan, said that a plaza skate park would allow a skater to flow down from one trick to the next.
"A plaza is a good idea. I've never been to a plaza skate park and that's why it would be unique," said Gogan.
McInnis was impressed with the ideas brought to the table by the skateboarders.
"People expressed what they wanted to see and I didn't hear any lofty goals and ideas," said McInnis. "I thought it was realistic and it was great to hear younger people comparing skate parks and helping draw up plans. What really impressed me was they talked a lot about incorporating green spaces and a place for spectators, which adds to the security of the skate park."
Bird was also impressed.
"They had some great ideas, especially the younger kids," said Bird. "Their enthusiasm and creativity is contagious."
Gurney, who has been commissioned by the town to facilitate a needs assessment and feasibility study, also said he was overwhelmed by the response.
"This event I saw today, the petitions I've seen and the results of the online survey are all showing there's very large support in the town for a skate park," said Gurney.
About 260 people responded to the online survey.
"All this information we've gathered will help us moving forward," Gurney said.
The final report will be presented to the Town of Amherst committee of the whole meeting Oct. 19.
Gurney said building a skate park is not a foregone conclusion, however.
"Our primary hurdles will be a site selection but we are well on the way to finding a resolution to that in a very diplomatic way," said Gurney. "The next step is establishing a park size and park budget appropriate for the size of the community."
McInnis agrees.
"I'm optimistic at this point that a skate park will happen," she said. "It's inevitable. It's just a matter of how big and where."
Skateboarder Nate Cuvelier hopes McInnis is right.
"At least we've gone this far in the process," said Cuvelier. "It would be a disappointment to be led on like this, then not have it happen."

Organizations: Tantramar Theatre, Cumberland Regional Economic Association, Amherst committee

Geographic location: AMHERST

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Recent comments

  • know it all
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    100 people there ? Mr. Bird get a grip most were the tim horton's crew looking for a free hotdog .maybe 20 boarders and 5-6 bikes most were there for the free meal , personaly I think Mr. Bird is riding this to get more votes in 3 years but in my opinion this has sealed his case , he has proven that he is not leader material ,As anyone figured out who is going to pay the 10 million dollar insurance on this waste of my money ? will the town be on the hook for that as well ? will it be user pay ? if not why not ? many questions not answerd has usualby Mr. Bird - is Mr.Bird there as per town council request or is he just vote getting either way he is losing

  • Janet
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    Our 19 yr old and friends were there on their bikes and put on quite a show!! I brought our 5 yr old down for the whole thing and even hubby got dropped off after work to watch.
    It was a blast to watch him and all the others flipping all over the place. Our youngest spent most of it squealing about his big brother riding and how AWESOME MOM (that's fr a 5 yr old) it was to see everyone.
    You did an amazing job J & H, and I'm happy to know that you're both so fit
    and healthy...makes a Momma proud :o)

  • Troy
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46


  • Janet
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    This will be an opportunity for kids from ALL backgrounds to skate, bike, board, listen to music, hang out, share ideas, be creative, active & learn to get along.
    What on earth could be wrong with that?

    Every child/youth/young adult fr this community DESERVES a chance regardless of where the parents hang out, what 'sins' you feel we may of committed in the past, present or future as that is the ONLY way family circles of disfunction can be changed.

    Our children need adults who put them first. Who have faith in their ability. Who show them that respect is earned & how to go about earning it... the skate park will go a long way to meeting that goal.
    Congrats to all who came out that day, it was a wonderful time.

  • Robert
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    To know it all..personally I don't care what think...but thanks for the demonstration of intellect and courage.

  • Another 2 Cents
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Great story!

    I stopped by; just for a minute (no Im not a Tim's customer looking for a free hotdog.)

    I don't have perfect grammar, punctuation, syntax, etc, but stop insulting others, its unbecoming people!!!!!

    Good job Mr. Bird (who I never met) and the others who are making this happen. These things are what make a good community a great community.

  • David
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Why are people slamming Robert Bird? I don't know him at all but he seems to be working hard for town council and does care deeply about Amherst as per his comments on here all of the time. He is just voicing an opinion like everyone else. Why can't people stop using a poison pen and try to be more posiive with their comments?

  • Amanda McInnis
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    What a great article! Such a positive message we are able to get out there. The event was a HUGE success and very exciting.

    It proved that there is support for a skate park!

    No negative message will bust my bubble.... Good work fellow supporters!

  • Chaz
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    To know it all: Maybe you should move to another town, because you truely have a problem with everything our town does to improve it. This would be great for the kids in the town.....Better then sitting home playing Xbox......

  • Peter
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Awesome event & meeting!
    Easily more than 100 ppl there if you count those who came & went & filtered through.
    The turnout & show of support should be enough to turn away the naysayers once & for all - should be...
    The insurance is no different than the Stadium or anyother Town owned venue.
    Great job Amanda, Jay, Jennifer & all the others who organized!!!
    Also to Robert - keep up the good work!!!

  • Jennifer
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Dear Dave Beaton:

    In answer to your question:

    Because it's Amherst...

    When someone tries to be or do something positive the critics attack. Heaven forbid someone give a positive comment encouraging such things.

    There are many skate parks here in Calgary and it didn't take my two sons very long to find them and make friends. Buying a Rip Stick and a skateboard were a much better investment in my sons' health and future than any video game ever was.

    I will go out of my way anytime they ask to drive them and their friends to, or pick them up from, the skate park. Also, it is located next to the Mewata Armouries so it is in a safe location with lots of Canadian Forces personnel coming and going.

    Please make this happen in Amherst. I remember this being debated way back when I was in highschool, and that was a long time ago, and it has been going on since then.

    Good luck kids! I hope this finally works out.

  • All4it
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Know it all...Learn to write with proper spelling and grammar if you want your views to be take seriously.

    (As anyone figured? has Usualby? answerd?) Ok...just learn to write with a modicum of appripriate grammar and syntax and spelling and you might be taken more seriously. Anyways....

    I am an old skater from Amherst, a generation removed from these kids and we only had the old Hospital site and downtown curbs. I'm so pleased to see that there will be something put back in the community for these children. Project Echo was probably one of the best hang outs and the curbs around there and the gaps were times that are forever immortalized in the hearts of the pre 2000 skaters of Amherst. Its about time that they put something else there to herd the youth in that town. Great Job Mr. Bird..keep up the good work.

  • Critical Thinker
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    THIS COMMENT HAS BEEN EDITED BY THE MODERATOR As anyone figured out who is going to pay the 10 million dollar insurance on this waste of my money ? will the town be on the hook for that as well ? will it be user pay ? if not why not ?

    We all will you big donkey, that's what living in this great country is about. You pay taxes on your income and things you buy so that the leaders we elect can build things for education, exercise, culture, and the like. The money we pay in to the government is for more than just paving roads and putting up street lights. A vibrant, healthy, adjusted community needs areas where people can express themselves and be active.