Red Bank YMCA members may get a skate park

john burton

The Hub

RED BANK — In the wake of last week’s introduction of an ordinance prohibiting skateboards, roller skates and in-line skates from much of the borough, discussions are under way to build a skate park at the local YMCA on Maple Avenue.

Borough Councilwoman Florence Thompson, who also serves on the Parks and Recreation Committee, said the borough and the Community YMCA are attempting to find a safe and viable location to permit youths to skate.

Thompson said she believes the park would "provide these young athletes with a place to practice their sport" and be a satisfactory compromise for all concerned. She added that she hoped the skaters would participate in the effort "so they can take pride and ownership in the result."

At the March 14 Borough Council meeting, the council introduced an ordinance that would in effect ban the use of skateboards, roller skates and in-line skates from the entire length of Broad Street and other parts of the downtown business district as well from as public parks.

The council cited public safety and damage to public property as reasons for the ordinance. Mayor Edward J. McKenna Jr. said he has received complaints from pedestrians and senior citizens who have been struck by skaters or have been narrowly missed as the skaters zoomed by.

At last week’s meeting, McKenna showed pictures of property allegedly damaged by skaters.

Parents of skaters voiced their opposition to the ordinance and requested that the borough offer a place for skaters to go.

The proposed park would encompass 20,000 square feet of the Y’s outdoor facility and would be paved with either asphalt or concrete and have concrete ramps, said Maureen Fitzgerald, executive director of the YMCA. Skaters would be required to wear safety helmets, knee pads and elbow pads. The park will be available to all members of the YMCA.

"We have the space and we have the staff," Fitzgerald said. "And we’re very excited about working with the borough on this."

Fund-raising efforts for the park will be coordinated between the YMCA and the borough. Fitzgerald said she hopes to solicit support from such community service organizations as the Lions and the Kiwanis clubs.

Fitzgerald said it is too soon to discuss costs and that more will be known when a preliminary plan is presented at the March 28 Borough Council meeting.

Meanwhile, Fair Haven residents are working to build a public park for skateboarding behind the Fair Haven Youth Center. Young skaters and their parents are working with skating and insurance professionals in planning an April 10 presentation to their Borough Council.