The city of Pembroke is getting a permanent skateboard park.
On Tuesday, council unanimously agreed to allow the Barrymore Parking Lot, located on Lake Street east of Albert Street, to be converted into a skateboard park at no cost to the city.
City CAO Terry Lapierre informed the combined committee meeting there has been continuing discussion about establishing a skateboard park for many years. He said a temporary solution was previously established in the Pembroke Memorial Centre’s overflow parking lot, but the wooden ramps and other equipment provided didn’t stand up to use, weather or storage, and needed to be replaced.
Lapierre said the Barrymore lot hasn’t been used in five to seven years and is located in the downtown, making it easily accessible for young people.
The CAO said Jerry Novack, director of The Grind Youth Group, stepped forward and has been instrumental in acquiring equipment for use by area youth, and has actively been developing youth programs. An anonymous donor stepped forward to deposit $100,000 in funding towards the development and equipping of the park, with the money being placed in a trust account. The equipment purchased will be owned by the city.
Lapierre said a volunteer group will be fixing up the lot by removing weeds and sealing cracks in the pavement, and Novack has committed to take care of the park’s equipment, and to volunteer to develop and run the skateboard park related programming at the site, under the auspice of the city’s economic development, recreation and tourism department.
The CAO said this arrangement means the facility and the equipment will fall under the city’s insurance umbrella. Plus, there remains the potential to further expand the park over time if the community at large steps up to help do so.
Coun. Pat Lafreniere, who has championed the cause of bringing a skateboard park to the city’s downtown, said this arrangement is too good of a deal to pass up, and she is backing it 100 per cent.
Novack said this new park will mean the program which was started three years ago will be able to continue and expand in all seasons.
“Besides the Giant Tiger location, we now have an outdoor one for the summer,” he said. The store has allowed an indoor one to operate on their second floor over the winter months.
Novack said the parking lot has been fixed up this weekend, with it being open Wednesday morning for skateboarders, using existing equipment until the new gear can be purchased.
On Saturday, July 25 from noon to 3 p.m., The Grind will be hosting a skateboard competition in the new park.
Stephen Uhler is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist