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Keene BMX riders group want to raise money for new skate park

By MEGHAN PIERCE
Union Leader Correspondent
April 16. 2018 10:03PM



KEENE - A group of avid BMX bike riders are hoping to resurrect plans for a new skate park in downtown Keene.

With the help of private funds, a city-owned skate park was built downtown in the late 1990s, Keene's Parks, Recreation and Facilities Director Andy Bohannon said Wednesday at the City Council's municipal services, facilities and infrastructure committee meeting.

“Part of the problem we have with our skate park is the design,” Bohannon said.

The park is deteriorating, in part, because the ramp made of plywood and steel was built for skate boarders and roller bladders in mind, not BMX bike riders, he said, adding that the BMX group is planning to raise $300,000 for the project.

Committee member Robert Sutherland asked why the city is considering paying $1.6 million of taxpayer money on a senior center with a private group while the city is expecting the group using the skate park to raise the funds for its project.

“There seems to a be conflict here with engagement rules with different groups,” Sutherland said.

Bohannon said some new plywood and steel could keep the current skate park usable for the next two or three years.

“The plywood's easy to fix. It's the steel to get us through another year or so that will take some funding,” he said. But that would only be a temporary fix, he said. “You're only kicking the can down the road two or three years.”

Bohannon said a design study was conducted in 2015 to create a new skate park in Wheelock Park, which estimated a $773,000 cost. However, no action was taken on that study.

Kathy Burke said her son has been an avid skate park user and has been spearheading the effort for a new one. She added she supports the skate park because it keeps the teens active.

“He's a BMX rider. He's one of the one's that has been doing a lot of damage to the ramps,” Burke said. “I got involved because I saw my son go from a computer geek to a very confident young man.”

She added the park is in really bad shape, so they have been meeting with Bohannon about building a new one, but they want to keep it downtown.

“The kids really want to keep it downtown. They love being able to get pizza, go get water, go to the yogurt shop and the candy shop, of course,” she said.


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