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April 6, 2013

High-flying hazards

Skaters band together to make repairs to city park

Though people often pin skaters as reckless and delinquent, some of Gloucester’s most skilled on wheels are proving just the opposite — even repairing their favorite, city-owned hang out.

Rusted ramps, peeling pavement and cracked cement characterize Gloucester’s only skate park, next to O’Maley Innovation Middle School

“The park is falling apart,” says Michael Asaro, a 21-year-old Gloucester High School graduate who began skating at the park back when he attended the middle school. “Either way, it’s a sport where you do kind of get hurt once in a while, but this damage has made it much worse. Every year, we see more cracks, ramps falling apart, just damage. It gets worse and worse.”

But, Asaro, who has broken an ankle twice at Gloucester’s park, is not just complaining — and he’s not just talk. He and friends have grouped together to repair and maintain parts of the skate park that most sorely need care, and plan more fixes in the future.

Skateboarders now grind along the corner of a bench with a steel lip, a bench that was once two benches with no grindable edge. Asaro and friends chipped in to buy a $100 piece of iron, dragged the two benches together, filled a gap with cement and fitted the metal to the edge.

If Gloucester could keep up with repairs, fewer people would resort to skating in streets and parking lots around the city, Asaro said, because while the skate park by O’Maley calls for repairs, it still outshines skate parks in nearby towns.

So, Asaro, along with a group of about 10 of his friends, come whenever they can, even shoveling snow from the park one time this winter to clear it for skateboarding in hats and mittens. The group cannot get enough of the confidence boosts, the adrenaline rushes and the teaching moments, he said.

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