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Skateboard City

Local enthusiasts take their skateboards to the streets

November 16, 2008
By RICHARD NILSEN, The Leader-Herald

Some excitement about skateboard possibilities was stirred up by the opening of Deralix Skate and Snow shop in Johnstown recently, but the question of where to skateboard remains an issue.

Deralix owner Staci Cannizzaro said she would like to see community minded businesses and organizations make a park available to youths with skateboards, but so far no such facility has come about in Johnstown or Gloversville.

Gloversville Transit Manager Al Schultz said when he first came to the position, there was an informal set of plywood jumps for skateboarders in the parking lot at the transit facility, but it quickly fell into disrepair.

Article Photos

The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
Luke Cannizzaro, 14, of Johnstown, catches air off the Charles Jenner bandshell Thursday.

"That was about three years ago," he said.

The only skateboard park officially open for use appears to be in Northville, where the Baptist Church of Northville's Pink Chicken youth outreach has an outdoor park available Friday evenings when staff are there to supervise.

Baptist Youth Director Christian Klueg said the skateboard park was set up at a cost of about $10,000 over a three-year period. He said they are only open during Friday evening hours of the Pink Chicken from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. so the park can be supervised and keep insurance costs down.

Because no other venue is open to youths in the area, Klueg said youths from Johnstown, Gloversville and Amsterdam have come to the facility to use it.

Former Chairwoman of the Gloversville Recreation Committee, Catherine Mueller, said the committee had talked about the possibility of starting a skateboard park at the old Littauer Pool area using the poolhouse, but the talk didn't go any further than studying the proposal.

"To set up a park like we wanted would cost about $40,000," she said.

Klueg said there is the added problem of wear and tear on equipment, so that funding must be re-allocated to keep jumps and ramps usable. They started the park in 2004 and at first had it in the church parking lot. He said it moves indoors in the winter.

"The outdoor park is very weather dependent," Klueg said. "Lately we've seen more BMX bikes using the jumps. It can get crowded."

Klueg said 75 percent of the youths who use the park are not from Northville.

"In the summer time we get a lot from Clifton Park and seasonal residents in the area," he said.

Klueg said that is fine with him, because the youth facility was built as an outreach. He does, however, bemoan the fact there aren't more facilities in the area to keep youths occupied and off the streets. He said the church tries to keep usage free for those who come there. He would like to see similar facilities grow up in Gloversville or Johnstown, even though attendance at his facility would then decrease.

"There's nothing much for kids to do in Johnstown or Gloversville," he said. "I see the old YMCA building in Johnstown and think that would make a great skateboard park."

He said he met with the Gloversville Recreation Committee to discuss the possibility of setting up a park at the Littauer Pool site, but both budget matters and supervision at the site were problematic.

Corey Quinn is one of the skateboarders who would like a skateboard park set up in Johnstown. He said people like First Ward Councilwoman Cynthia Lakata and Johnstown Police Investigator Jim Rodecker have been attempting to get a park started for about six years, but so far it has not happened.

"Canajoharie lets them set up jumps and ramps in the park there," Quinn said. "The kids drag their own stuff out and set it up and then tear it down again," he said.

He said youths who try skateboarding at the West Main Street Park or who set up jumps at the Johnstown Area Community Center regularly are complained about and city police chase them off the premises.

"Local people call it in," Quinn said. "The city has no parks department, so there are no plans to build anything.

Lakata said she has been unable to to get underwriting or oversight for a skateboard park in Johnstown. She said she would gladly pay a full year's membership for her son to attend the new county YMCA if a skateboard park could be set up there, and feels other parents would do likewise.

"I'd love to see them pick up the ball," Lakata said. "That would be great."

Director Steve Serge said the skateboard park has been talked about in the past at the YMCA, but it isn't something he can consider at the site.

"We're trying to do a good job with our existing activities," Serge said. "We would be supportive of any youth activity similar to this though."

Richard Nilsen is a general assignment reporter and can be reached at ga@leaderherald.com.

 
 

 

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