By Brooke Geery
Rutland Rec Superintendent Kim Peters has been working overtime throughout the pandemic. She and her team revamped the College of St. Joseph campus to create a diverse and well-stocked community center. They’ve added a new pool and made other improvements to existing parks in Rutland City. And behind the scenes, the department has also been working diligently with the local skateboard community to plan a free, outdoor, concrete skatepark.
In recent years, the city relied heavily on Darkside Snowboards to assemble and run the skatepark that was housed within Giorgetti Arena to give local skaters and riders a place to go in the summer. During the pandemic, though, the former hockey rink was turned into an essential care facility for healthcare workers and teachers. After assessing the decaying ramps, the call was made to forgo opening Flipside Skatepark for summer 2021 and concentrate efforts on finally getting a permanent park built.
Brittany Cassell is helping to coordinate the efforts, and find good homes for the old ramps, which the Dept. has gotten permission to auction or donate.
Peters said Rutland already has about $20,000 earmarked to kick off the process, which should be enough to get a solid plan in place.
“When we go to the Board of Aldermen, which will probably be soon, it’ll be basically asking for permission to move on with this project. This is something we’ve been working on; I’ve planted seeds already. Now we’re ready to start moving because of the outdoor grants that are coming out now from the state. So that really gives us a good push. We’re really excited!”
Based on more than three years of research, Peters estimates the final park budget could be anywhere from $300,000 to $500,000, which includes things such as lighting and bathrooms. But as of right now, nothing is set in stone, not even the site.
One proposed location covers 9,000 square feet in Pine Hill Park. Another possible location is in Monsignor Thomas Connor Park at 41 Meadow St., near Mount St. Joseph Academy.
“We realized not because of the skatepark, but because of other dynamics in our community, that Meadow Street could actually be a good site, as that tends to be where a lot of the kids go,” Peters said.
With any municipal project, there is a lot of red tape that must be cut through to make the park happen, and Peters reiterated that the No. 1 thing that will push this project along is the local community.
“Because we’ve had to close down the indoor skatepark, we had so many people come forth and say, ‘How can we help?’” Peters said. “We know that we’re going to get the community help that we need to push it forward, so we’re going to look at this as a big community project. We don’t plan on utilizing our operational fund, but rather plan on fundraising and using grants.” If all goes as planned, the skatepark could break ground (as soon as it thaws) in spring of 2022.
Darkside general manager Tucker Zink has been a major supporter and contributor to the project, and said he has faith that Rutland Rec will make it happen. “It’s been great working with Kim and Brittany [Cassell], they have really listened to our ideas and advice. I truly can’t wait to drop into the park for the first time.”