Local Grad Presents Skate Park Petition to Borough Council

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Local Grad Presents Skate Park Petition to Borough Council

This Warren Hills student practices his ollie, a skateboard trick, on a street in Washington. (Photo courtesy of Kayleen Oviedo)

This Warren Hills student practices his ollie, a skateboard trick, on a street in Washington. (Photo courtesy of Kayleen Oviedo)

This Warren Hills student practices his ollie, a skateboard trick, on a street in Washington. (Photo courtesy of Kayleen Oviedo)

This Warren Hills student practices his ollie, a skateboard trick, on a street in Washington. (Photo courtesy of Kayleen Oviedo)

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During the Washington Borough Council Meeting on September 17, Camren Bastien, a local 2019 Warren Hills Graduate, brought a signed petition and speech to propose the building of a skate park in town.

After collecting 55 signatures in support and writing a speech, Bastien went to the meeting to present his ideas to during the time allotted for the public.

“We, the youth, of Washington, come to ask you to consider a risk, a risk called a skate park, or more aptly, an opportunity called a skate park,” Bastien read at the meeting, highlighting the risk a skate park could pose.

Bastien continued his speech, which centered on why Washington could benefit from a skate park.

“On a broader scale, we are largely invisible. I frequently walk through the town to talk to people, shop owners, friends. They all say unanimously that Washington needs more, that just a few years ago the town was near dead,” he read, “[The skate park would] open up the community and give something to do.”

To gather signatures for the petition, Bastien had enlisted the help of Anne Boie, the owner of Washington Candy Closet and Cafe, who helped by hanging the petition in her store and who was also present at the meeting.

“It’ll bring people together,” Boie said. “It gets kids off their phones. Nobody signed it just to get rid of us, everybody was very supportive. There are plenty of places to hangout, but only one park you can walk to.”

Washington Borough Mayor, David Higgins, was the first to respond.

“Twenty years ago, we had skateboarders come in and ask the same thing,” he said, “The insurance guy and risk manager said ‘don’t do it’. [But] I personally think it’s a good idea.”

Higgins told Bastien that the matter would be transferred to the Borough Manager, Borough, who is in charge of projects in Washington.

Following the meeting, Dawn Higgins, the Mayor’s wife, approached Bastien and his group to express her support for a skate park.

“We’ve been behind this project for 20 years, we need to get into the 21st century,” she said, “It’s a great idea and has been for years, and if you have not only community but business support, it’s hard to say no.”

 

Bastien and his group were determined to pursue the idea, and met with Borough Manager, Matthew Hall in a scheduled meeting a month later.

“Everything we do is a calculation of risk,” Hall told them. “We’re bound by certain things, It would need to be designed to certain standards, from there we can say ‘is this realistic?’ There’s a finite amount of money [and] it does come down to funding.”

“The first thing we would want to come up with is what would you want to see built?” Hall continued, “We would want input from the community.”

“If we were talking about something the size of the pavilion [at Boro Park], you’re easily going to run into the high thousands,” Hall said on the topic of cost.

Bastien, however, was prepared for that.

“We right now have a huge backing from local businesses as far as small fundraising events, and aside from that, we’re looking at grants, from both skating organizations and corporations such as hospitals and the M&M company,” he said.

“So do we have the go ahead to continue?” Bastien asked as his last question, to which Hall agreed.

Even with no certainty that a park would be placed, local skaters were ready for somewhere to go.

“I think I would skate more, I tend not to skate just because there’s not a really good place to skate right now.” said Alyssa Leahy, Washington Resident, “Even if I’m not skating I would probably go just to hang out, and I know my brother James would skate there for sure.”

Zeke Crump, a Warren Hills Sophomore and frequent skater is also excited for the potential skate park, “[It] would be epic if there was a skate park in Borough, I would go there a lot probably, I think it’s a good idea because it would boost the skating community in Washington.” said Crump.