Portland skatepark construction begins this week

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PORTLAND — Five years after the city identified Dougherty Field as the best location for a new skate park, construction of the facility is set to begin.

The park is expected to take six weeks to build. It’s completion will give skaters and bikers a designated place to ride for the first time since the city tore down the old skate park on Marginal Way four years ago to make way for new development.

“It’s been a long time in the making, and it is really exciting to get started,” said City Councilor Dave Marshall, who served as chairman of the Skatepark Planning Committee.

Dougherty Field is on Douglass Street, and locating the skate park there was met with opposition from neighbors when it was first proposed. The project was alsoheld up in the council’s Health and Recreation Committee  for more than a year by councilors trying to stall the project because they objected to the location.

“I pushed the issue when I was first elected,” Marshall said.

The city eventually gave the project a $75,000 fundraising start, and the Skatepark committee raised about $250,000 more from grants and private donors, including the Quimby Foundation, The Ollie Fund (of the Maine Community Foundation), the In-Body Foundation and Mensk. Hall Elementary School and South Portland middle and high schools held fundraisers for the project, and there was a public “buy-a-brick” fundraiser.

The skate park will be constructed by Hardcore Shotcrete Skateparks and will include benches, a pyramid, a dish, ledges, steps, rails, gaps and a quarter pipe.

The groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 22, at 4 p.m. It had originally been scheduled for Monday, Sept. 20, but was delayed of the rally at Deering Oaks Park featuring singer Lady Gaga.

Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or kbucklin@theforecaster.net