Skate­board park an­nounced

Col­lab­o­ra­tion pays off with an­nounce­ment of new park for West Street

The Casket - - FRONT PAGE - SAM MAC­DON­ALD sam­mac­don­ald@the­cas­

Skate­board­ers of Antigo­nish re­joice – a new skate park is com­ing to town. And it may be here as soon as next sum­mer.

The an­nounce­ment of the forth­com­ing skate park was made to a group of en­thu­si­as­tic peo­ple from across Antigo­nish town and county, with the oc­ca­sional shouts and whoops of ex­cite­ment rip­col­lec­tive pling through the crowd, on Aug. 23.

The an­nounce­ment was at the site of the skate park’s fu­ture lo­ca­tion – the field be­tween the old Mu­nic­i­pal Build­ing on West Street, and the RCMP Sta­tion on Fairview Street.

The park is the prod­uct of a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the Town of Antigo­nish, the Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of the County of Antigo­nish, St. F.X. and the Antigo­nish Skatepark (a group for­merly known as the Antigo­nish High­land Skate­board­ing As­so­ci­a­tion.)

Mayor Lau­rie Boucher said the park "has been a long time in the mak­ing," not­ing that the idea has been worked on for the last 20 years.

"Although we are here to an­nounce it to­day, it was the work of those peo­ple who came be­fore us that brought us here to­day," Boucher said, as a nod to past ef­forts by the for­mer Antigo­nish High­land Skate­board As­so­ci­a­tion to cre­ate a skate park in town.

Those ef­forts re­sulted in a tem­po­rary park that was set up by High­way 7, and sub­se­quently shut down.

Dan Ross, one of the orig­i­nal mem­bers of a coali­tion that worked to bring a skate park to Antigo­nish was em­phatic in how

im­por­tant he thought such a re­source to be.

"It’s ex­tremely im­por­tant, es­pe­cially with so many kids grow­ing up and miss­ing their chance – and not for lack of ef­fort from the vol­un­teers," Ross said. "I can just feel a sigh of re­lief, along with the cel­e­bra­tion to­day, know­ing that not only some­thing is hap­pen­ing but some­thing world class is hap­pen­ing."

One thing Ross was specif­i­cally happy to hear about was the lo­ca­tion cho­sen. He said that the pre­vi­ous tem­po­rary park, "was a bit out­side the core of the town. That sym­bol­izes that you’re ex­clud­ing the sport," adding that hav­ing it right by West Street is a far bet­ter place­ment.

"It’s go­ing to be for all kids of all ages," Ross said, with an­tic­i­pa­tion. "I’m go­ing to be skate­board­ing there, my son will be. You need fa­cil­i­ties like this."

Boucher, county war­den Owen Mccar­ron, St. F.X. VP of fi­nance and ad­min­is­tra­tion An­drew Beck­ett and mem­bers of the Antigo­nish Skatepark Col­lec­tive all spoke of one vi­tal in­gre­di­ent in mak­ing the skate park a re­al­ity; col­lab­o­ra­tion.

"It’s so im­por­tant to re­al­ize we’re much more pro­duc­tive as a group, get­ting together, pool­ing our re­sources…our thoughts, and ideas – and lis­ten­ing to peo­ple we rep­re­sent," said Boucher.

Mccar­ron en­thu­si­as­ti­cally said the park would add to the great va­ri­ety of recre­ational and ath­letic op­por­tu­ni­ties in the Antigo­nish area, adding, "on the heels of a widely suc­cess­ful Na­tional Spe­cial Olympics, this is an­other ex­am­ple of what’s pos­si­ble when we all work together."

"We know pro­vid­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple, par­tic­u­larly youth, to get out and stay ac­tive is of the high­est im­por­tance. This con­trib­utes to per­sonal health, and the vi­tal­ity of the com­mu­nity," Mccar­ron said.

Ja­son Ma­son, a pro­fes­sional skate­boarder and snow­boarder orig­i­nally from Antigo­nish, ex­pressed his ex­cite­ment at the prospect of what a skate park can bring to Antigo­nish.

"I know what skate­board­ing can do for the world, and for a com­mu­nity. Bring­ing a world class park to Antigo­nish will lit­er­ally be giv­ing the kids of Antigo­nish an equal op­por­tu­nity to com­pete against kids all around the world."

The tim­ing couldn’t be bet­ter, Ma­son noted, given that skate­board­ing is set to be­come an of­fi­cial Olympic sport by 2020.

The skate park planned for Antigo­nish will have the same sorts of cour­ses as the ones that will be used in the Olympics, Ma­son said, adding, "we’re lit­er­ally bring­ing the world to our small town, and cre­at­ing ath­letes that can com­pete with the world, and that’s very ex­cit­ing."

Tara Hassin and Matt Schu­macher, mem­bers of the Antigo­nish Skatepark Col­lec­tive, en­cour­aged con­ver­sa­tions be­tween the com­mu­nity and mem­bers of the col­lec­tive, and asked peo­ple to con­sider join­ing the ef­forts and ini­tia­tives to make the skate park a re­al­ity.

"If you’re able to con­trib­ute, we’ll wel­come all the help we can get," Schu­macher said.

Boucher said the ex­pected date to break ground for the con­struc­tion is this time, next year. A re­quest for pro­posal for con­struc­tion of the park is forth­com­ing.

in­for­ma­tion re­leased from the Town of Antigo­nish stated an an­tic­i­pated $500,000 re­mains to be raised for the con­struc­tion of the skate park.

Sam Mac­don­ald

A small num­ber of the many peo­ple who cel­e­brated the an­nounce­ment of a new skate park com­ing to Antigo­nish on Aug. 23.

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