By Marjorie Nesin
---- — In a lot of cities, skateboarders might act as the local rascals and vandals, hassling city employees and ripping up public property.
But that bad rap hasn’t often been applied to Gloucester’s skateboarding crews.
In fact, some local skaters who had taken Gloucester’s only skate park, located next to O’Maley Middle School, under their wing to some degree, have teamed up with the city’s Department of Public Works in applying for Community Preservation Act funds to repair cracked cement, rusted metal, and dried up rubber in the park.
“There’s some new structures that we want to purchase. There’s some safety issues that we need to address,” said the DPW’s Mark Cole, who heads up the city’s parks and recreation projects. “If we get a CPA grant, we’ll be able to do a lot more, and if we don’t, there’s a few things we can do as well.”
A city committee awards Community Preservation Act funds, derived from a local tax surcharge approved by the city’s voters in 2008, and from state registry of deeds money, which provides a partial match. The money can be used for local historical, housing and open space and recreation projects.
The Community Preservation Committee will likely decide on the application, which the department began on its own and then reached out to skaters, in the next few weeks. Whether approved or denied, Cole said the park that dates to the early ’90s needs work.
The city would like to include new ramps in the rink, tear down the chain link fence, upgrade trash and recycling bins, add some landscaping, and incorporate benches around the edges of the skate area.
“It needs some upgrades, and it’s really not anything we could fit into our budget,” Cole said.
Cole will meet with the group of skaters again today to discuss the application, he said.
Community Preservation Committee co-chair Sandy Dahl Ronan said she is “hopeful” that the Community Preservation Committee can apply some funds over to the skate park.
“We’re very excited when these grass roots groups come together. They’re kind of combining forces.” Dahl Ronan said. “We are in the middle of considering the applications for the CPA grant, and we are definitely going to be considering that particular application.”
Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.