Marshall Miles Interviews Chris May, Amenia Town Board Examines Proposal for a Skatepark in Wassaic

(The Following is a portion of an article in The Millerton News)

May has been skateboarding for 25 years and that, at the age of 13, he and his friends advocated for the first skatepark in their hometown of Riverton, Wyo. Defining a skatepark as “a purpose-built recreational environment made of skateboarding, BMX, scooter, wheelchair and inline skating,” he said a skatepark creates “a safe space that’s an alternative to team sports that encourages fulfilling physical activity out of doors.” Looking at the health benefits in terms of mental, physical and social health, May said of all the things that make skateboarding fun — such as focus, self-education, determination and self-discipline — “is the enormous challenge and tremendous reward that comes from skateboarding.” 

Along with the physical benefits of aerobic exercise, strength-building and stamina-building, May said achieving a trick is one of the greatest intrinsic rewards. Meanwhile, the social benefits a skatepark include community involvement, a sense of belonging, inclusion, a social support network and building friendships. May said a skatepark would keep young people in town and provide a social gathering place in the community. He explained that a professionally designed skatepark acts as an extension of that community’s specific needs, adding that there’s a sense of ownership in having skateboarders participate in the design conversation. A well-designed skatepark would also attract visitors from other communities — even other states and countries, and would prove the town’s investment in its youth. 

Responding to Councilman Damien Gutierrez’s question about funding through grants, May shared that, based on his conversations with the Tony Hawk Foundation, on average 85% of funding for successfully completed skateparks is through grant money while about 5% is done through grassroots funding and about 10% is funded through private donations.


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