2016-07-28 / Front Page

Old Orchard Beach Skatepark to expand

By Ben Pinette
Contributing Writer


Left, a crater left behind from bike and scooter damage. The craters can be hazardous to skateboarders as their wheels can get caught in the grooves of the concrete. The recreation department is working closely with the town’s police force to stop this vandalism of the park. Left, a crater left behind from bike and scooter damage. The craters can be hazardous to skateboarders as their wheels can get caught in the grooves of the concrete. The recreation department is working closely with the town’s police force to stop this vandalism of the park. OLD ORCHARD BEACH – Plans for an expansion are underway at the Old Orchard Beach Skatepark. The park, which opened in May of last year, is expected to enter a new phase of development toward the end of the summer or early fall.

According to Recreation Director Jason Webber, the park completed Phase 1 of its instillation earlier this year, and is now geared up to enter Phase 2.

“Phase 2 is about almost completing the park. We want something that is unique

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To learn more about the Old Orchard Beach Skatepark, visit its Facebook page or call the Old Orchard Beach Recreation Department at 934-0860. to our skaters, and unique to the tourists that want to skate Old Orchard Beach,” he said.


Left, this sign, located in the entrance of the Old Orchard Beach Skatepark, was taken in 2015. According to Recreation Director Jason Webber, a new sign can be expected soon. The park is located directly behind the police station, on Ballpark Way. (Ben Pinette photos) Left, this sign, located in the entrance of the Old Orchard Beach Skatepark, was taken in 2015. According to Recreation Director Jason Webber, a new sign can be expected soon. The park is located directly behind the police station, on Ballpark Way. (Ben Pinette photos) The park has already been a “great success,” Webber said, drawing people from across New England. Skaters of all levels can enjoy the free flow skating environment and deep concrete bowl of the park.

Webber said the town council has already allocated funds for park expansion in the upcoming budget. In addition, Webber hopes to match these funds with grants from several skateboarding organizations, including Tony Hawk Grant or the Ollie Fund. Private donations have also been received.

“What’s nice about having Phase 1 done is that a lot of outside organizations that donate to these causes know that you’re committed to the project, and that it’s going to get done. Us having that first phase done is really going to help in terms of fundraising,” Webber said.

In addition to receiving municipal funds, Town Manager Larry Mead has also advocated for the park’s expansion. Since becoming manager in 2013, Mead has been adamant about installing a new park and, like Webber, is also excited to begin Phase 2.

“It’s a bright future,” Mead said. “(The park) will serve as a focal point for skate enthusiasts who want to take their game to a new level.”

Both Webber and Mead also praise the skating community of Old Orchard Beach for staying persistent throughout the process. Eric Santos, resident and avid skater, has stood out above the rest in regards to planning the new park. Since the destruction of the town’s old skatepark in 2006, he’s worked closely with Webber in building a new park for his hometown.

“I really don’t think this could be possible without Eric and his friends,” Webber said. “He’s been with the skatepark since day one. Eric is the driving force, keeping everyone focused.”

To Santos, skateboarding plays an important role in a lot of younger residents’ lives and is crucial in his community.

“Whatever you got going on at home, you can put that away when you’re here. You get to have fun, better yourself, be active and be creative. It truly changes peoples’ lives,” Santos said.

Being a skate-only facility, bikes and scooters are not allowed in the park. However, this hasn’t stopped some residents. Bikes and scooters create safety concerns because they create small craters in the concrete.

Santos said the number of these craters has increased greatly in the park’s first year, which is troublesome. The park took nearly a decade to complete, and by bringing in bikes and scooters, it’s undoing hard work.

“It’s one of those very difficult situations to monitor,” Webber said. “We work closely with the police department to monitor that area, and the rules are that it’s only a skateboard park.”

Regardless of damages, the future is bright for the Old Orchard Beach Skatepark. Not only has it already become a staple in the local skating community in one year, but plans for additions will soon be underway. Skate contests, family skate days and community events can also be expected to take place in the near future.

As for now, Webber cites the town’s persistence and togetherness as the main reason behind the park’s success. A number of different people and organizations have contributed to its construction, and Webber is thankful for all the help both he and Santos have received.

“It’s kudos to the parents and the kids to stay with it for so many years, and the passion they have for their sport. Kids that skate the park right now are thinking of the kids coming up here in Old Orchard Beach that will have a skatepark that they can then use in the future,” Webber said.

“It’s also kudos to the town council and manager that have supported it and not let it die or go to the wayside. A lot of thanks go to a lot of people, and I think the park really is a true treasure that will soon be exposed to the whole Northeast.”

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