Jon Segal, an extremely well-spoken 15-year-old skateboarding enthusiast, said he and his friends aren't asking for much. "We're not asking for money, but only for permission to go ahead with the idea to build a skatepark in Montclair," he said.
Segal and his friends have formed Skatepark in Montclair NJ!, a group that has been working for the past year to bring a skatepark to Montclair. The effort is perhaps the third in 10 years with the same goal. But that doesn't deter Segal and the others, who say they are tired of trying to skateboard as they dodge cars in places like Watchung Plaza.
"Whenever we skate we just get kicked out ... the police tell us to leave and go elsewhere," he said. "We ask them where we can go and they don't know."
Segal and his fellow skateboarding enthusiasts plan to present their proposal to the Town Council at its Tuesday night meeting. Already they say they have garnered support from the Parks and Recreation Committee, as well as from 399 members on their Facebook group page. Now they just need the go-ahead from the Council.
Montclair resident Angel Kenney, one of the group's organizers, said the town offers soccer fields, tennis courts, and basketball courts - so why not a skateboarding park?
"We all want our kids to get outside and get fresh air and exercise," she said. "We just want the council to agree that we need this.
"The kids want to do the fundraising and it would be so valuable for them to learn how to set a goal and then work to achieve it," she said.
Kenney estimated that the park would cost approximately $350,000 to $400,000. She hopes that the town will agree to set aside part of a municipal park for the skateboarders.
She hopes everyone will come out to the Council meeting Tuesday night at 8 p.m. to show their support.
"People of all different ability levels go skateboarding and there are grade school kids who would like to learn to do this," she said.
Segal said the best part of the sport is that it's not a competition.
"We all help each other out and we all give good vibes back and forth," he said. "When somebody performs a good trick we complement them on it."
Skatepark in Montclair NJ! says: "We really need all the help we can get for this event. We are having a very important presentation in front of the Town Council and if they say yes then it's a HUGE step towards getting the park. If they say no then it's back to the drawing board. So in order for them to say yes we need to have a HUGE turnout of Montclair residents. Everyone you can get and everyone that you know should be there. If you skate then bring your skateboards to show what a great amount of skaters we actually have."
Editor's note: Livingston opened its new skate park last month.