Dreams Come True At Skateboard Park
By Edie Johnson
The City of Newburgh chalked off a huge WIN this week, one that has been dreamed of and worked on for years with Newburgh’s Skateboard Park becoming reality. Through the efforts of a group of talented and passionate skateboard fans and a lot of official support, their hard work has resulted in a beautiful park that can help their skills grow. The young men, Darius Prez, Marco Colon, Treasure Jackson and Wyatt Stevens, along with art designer Erica Enriquez, have spent more than 5 years working through official channels and learning how the ‘system’ can work for you if you join with the right people and never give up. Their phenomenal skill at skateboarding, through practicing for years at a Dunkin Donuts parking lot, helped the project move forward as people watched them develop, jumping on and off walls and railings with such skill that you might look at Darius Prez twice to check that it’s not Shawn White. With faces full of grins they reflected on having named themselves after the Donuts site. Erica Enriquez, an artist who creates art with a mind to promote appreciation of cultural diversity, added a skateable sculpture to the project. It’s a prototype but along with other skill challenges it will soon be added to the park.
Persistence led them to Ellen Fillo, Newburgh’s Community Development Director and Roxie Royale, a Newburgh matriarch with a penchant to help the City’s young who lobbied city officials for years on their behalf. Mayor Judy Kennedy joined in the effort as well.
Newburgh Mayor Torrance Harvey and Roxie Royale both spoke of this endeavor as one that will end the time of people saying that Newburgh’s young have been on the streets and sometimes in trouble, with nothing to do. They also committed to a future where this is going to be only one of the many great new things that are going to be done for the youth of Newburgh. That includes, Fillo said, a shady spot where they can relax between skateboard rounds. No one will be surprised if there are contests and prizes in the future as the skateboard park continues to develop.
Their years of effort resulted in attaining a Federal Community Block Grant of $500,000, and eventually to Senator Bill Larkin adding a second grant for $100,000 for the 13,000 sq. ft. project. Their research into skateboard design companies then brought on GrIndline Concrete Design and Hardcore Skateparks to finish the design and construction work. Aesthetically smooth and pleasing it offers plenty of space for both beginners and those with more advanced skills to practice and add skill levels of tricks.
Having the park is only a small part of their accomplishments. During the process not only did their communicating and negotiating skills grow, but when Ellen Fillo introduced them they spoke to the crowd of their wishes to help the next generation of young in Newburgh. Along with that they got to know officials at many levels of state government, as well as procedures for getting things accomplished and approved. Topping that off, they made many friends along the way. Their success can be measured by the degree of cooperation and leadership skills they showed during the first runs of about 30 skateboarders. They ranged all the way from competition levels to newcomers and included both skateboards and scooters, as well as a dozen or so young onlookers eager to join the fun sometime in the near future.
In the hour or so of the first runs it was nothing less than remarkable that there was not a single real collision. In fact, when the top performers felt they needed some extra space to try more risky stunts, they asked the young and beginners to stand back and watch for a few minutes, and of course were available to give beginners tips throughout the afternoon. These skills can clearly take them through not just the grand opening, but succeeding in their own lives as well making significant contributions to their community.