University of Maine students, faculty members and members of the Greater Bangor community met on Friday in the New Balance Student Recreation Center conference room to discuss building a new skate park at the University. The meeting was a follow-up to a skate park meeting held before winter break, which was well attended and showed interest in building a skate park on the UMaine campus.
While it was smaller than the meeting before the break, Friday’s meeting showed progress in building the park, and there were new students who had not attended the meeting before the break.
Matt Strong, a fourth-year engineering student, successfully restarted UMaine’s Student Quest for Underground Athletic Development, a club he hopes will run the student movement to build the skate park. SQUAD is currently recruiting students to the skate park movement.
“It’s a numbers thing,” Said said. “If we go to student government and say, ‘Hey, we’re the biggest group on campus,’ they’ll have to pay attention to us.”
Josh Kaffer, president of the Black Bear Skate Park Association, a local organization dedicated to building skate parks in the greater Bangor area, discussed local funding.
Old Town and Orono have $38,000 and $12,000, respectively, earmarked funds to build a skate park. Old Town has said it will match any money Orono raises to build a skate park up to $38,000. Right now, that means there is $24,000 in funding for a skate park between the two towns. BBSA is helping Orono raise additional funds so Old Town will match a higher amount.
“Any donation that comes to us, the check is written to the town of Orono with the memo of a skate park,” Kaffer said.
Students at the meeting tossed around fundraising ideas, that included showing skating videos and holding cookouts to promote the park.
Skate park proponents are currently looking at building the park near the Hilltop parking lot. At the meeting, Kaffer discussed the need for alternative sites.
Jeff Hunt, UMaine’s director of campus recreation, is involved in the project and supports building a skate park on campus.
The Class of 2013 previously tried to build a skate park at the University but pulled out, because the project wouldn’t be completed by the time of their graduation. Mathematics professor Paul Van Steenberghe, renewed interest in the project a few weeks before winter break. A janitor called the police on Steenberghe for trick bicycling on a set of stairs outside Hitchner Hall. The officer who responded to the call suggested that Steenberghe and other bikers and skaters should have a skate park.
The University’s skate park would be the United States’ first on-campus concrete skate park.
“It would be nice to see another form of recreation on the UMaine campus,” said Benjamin Morrison, a third-year civil engineering student.
“There are certain people on this campus who don’t enjoy just playing tennis or just playing basketball, [who] haven’t been raised to play those certain sports,” said Anthony Alves, a freshman first-year sustainable agriculture student. “I skateboard almost every day. I feel like I could really benefit, physically, mentally and spiritually, from a skate park here.”