PORTLAND — After nearly six years of debate, planning and fundraising, the Portland Skatepark at Dougherty Field finally opened on Saturday, Nov. 20.
Nearly 160 skateboarders and BMX bikers came out for the event.
“It’s really awesome to see the kids out there,” City Councilor and Skatepark Committee Chairman David Marshall said. “They were having a great time.”
The park was constructed by Hardcore Shotcrete Skateparks, and cost $325,000 to build.
Funds came from public and private sources, including a land donation and $75,000 from the city, as well as grants from the Beth Quimby Foundation, the Ollie Fund of the Maine Community Foundation, Mensk Foundation and several community and school fundraisers. A buy-a-brick program also supported the project.
The park will be maintained by the city’s Parks and Recreation Department and is open during daylight hours. While the city will not clear snow from the park during the winter, Marshall said he expects the skateboarders and bikers will likely clear snow just like users of the basketball courts do now.
When the initial decision was made to install the park at Dougherty Field, some neighborhood residents protested the selection. The project was also held 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.
“There was plenty of room there. Dougherty Field was the best option,” Marshall said.
Construction on the park began in September.
Features of the new park include a skateable bench, rails, quarter pipe, steps, rollers and other devices.
A skate park on Marginal Way was torn down more than four years ago to make way for commercial development of the area. Since then, skateboarders have taken to the streets, an issue that spurred the city to install cobblestone strips on Exchange Street in an attempt to discourage the practice.
“This will take pressure off the downtown area,” Marshall said. “There will still be some (skateboarding) activity downtown, but the park is really attractive to skaters.”
Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Joshua McCrillis, 19, of Portland, grabs some stylin’ air off a jump during the opening of the Portland Skatepark on Saturday at Dougherty Field along St. James Street.