Skatepark in Montclair NJ! -- which formed about a year ago -- will finally get what it wants Tuesday evening: a vote by the Montclair Town Council on a resolution showing support for a skate park in Montclair.
But already at least one councilor is expressing reservations. Indeed, Councilor Cary Africk said he believes the resolution needs work, and that he will be suggesting changes.
"Specifically, I want to be clear that while I support efforts to obtain funding, acquire land, build and run a skate park I cannot at this time support any effort that would imply the town is committing to any resources or assets, including money or land," he said. " Nor can I support it becoming a 'public skate park' if that would imply the town has liability, or any responsibility for the skate park's maintenance, or cost of operations."
Africk said he understands that many "great" kids and parents are engaged in the sport and that he will gladly help identify donors and other sources of funding for the skate park.
The resolution states that the Township of Montclair recognizes and supports the goal of finding a suitable location and the necessary funding for the development of a skate park.
The resolution also states that "the Township Council endorses the continued efforts to investigate this worthwhile public project, with the assistance and input of various groups and committees supportive of this effort, including the Montclair 'Skateboard Coalition,' the Montclair YMCA, the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee, and the Montclair Fund for Educational Excellence (MFEE), while recognizing that further work needs to be done to identify an appropriate site and funding sources. To that end, the Township is prepared to support applications and requests for private funds, work to identify an appropriate site, and otherwise take steps to develop a specific proposal for action."
Skatepark in Montclair NJ! said it has never wanted funding from the Township - only support so that the group can start seeking private monies.
"We just want the council's support because then we feel we can go forward with our fundraising," said Andy Day, 49, who is spearheading the effort along with Angel Kenney and a large and growing group of young Montclair skating enthusiasts.
The students have their own Facebook page with an impressive list of 418 members. They've also won the support of Montclair High School Principal James Earle.
Skatepark in Montclair NJ! said Monday that there are many reasons why a skate park in Montclair makes sense.
"The sheer number of skateboard enthusiasts, which continues to grow, coupled with the lack of a safe and legal place for them to skate together - in a time when we are combating unhealthy habits of our children are all reasons to support a public skate park in our community," the coalition said. "We hope that you will come out and support the resolution. After a year of meetings, gathering data, doing research, we are now eager to have the resolution passed so that we can identify a location and initiate our fundraising efforts."
The students say that the town of Sayreville - which has an 11,000-square-foot skate park where visitors skate at their own risk - would be the inspiration for Montclair's skate park. Although there's a skate park in Bloomfield, it boasts a fence and attendant, which increases the town's liability. Another one in Livingston burdens users with a long list of rules and regulations.
Kenney has estimated that the skate park in Montclair would be about 10,000 square feet in size and would cost approximately $350,000 to $400,000 to build. She hopes that the town will agree to set aside part of a municipal park for the skaters.
"Montclair prides itself on being such a cool and groovy place with a diverse population," Day said. "And skateboarding is enjoyed by all races and all socioeconomic groups."