By JAIMIE JULIA WINTERS
Skate Essex will continue with plans to expand its skate park at Rand Park in Montclair after the township’s insurance provider returned a favorable risk analysis and insurance cost review, according to Councilman Peter Yacobellis.
Additionally, Skate Essex announced on March 3 that The Skatepark Project (formerly The Tony Hawk Foundation) had awarded it a $25,000 grant for the next phase – adding eight skateable sculptures designed by the US Olympic skater and seven-time Olympic medalist. X Games Alexis Sablone at the park. The grant will complement the $40,000 from Skate Essex, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, raised over the past year and will be used to pay for the sculptures, board member Larry Linietsky said. who leads Skate Essex fundraising.
In January, Montclair Township Council voted to allow the park expansion and directed the Township Manager to research the insurance cost analysis and review the implications of the skate park with the agent. township insurance, Garden State Municipal Joint Insurance Fund. If the review came back as favorable, the plan was to install the skateable sculptures on the south two of Rand’s four tennis courts. The township would also keep the existing temporary skate park located on the two northern tennis courts. Once the installation is complete, the four courts would be used by the skaters.
“The result was considered favorable. There is a negligible increase in our insurance premium for the medical accident policy and some requirements such as posting hours of operation, trespassing warnings and updated rules and regulations that we need to do said Yacobellis of the analysis.
The additional premium to current recreational medical accident coverage is estimated at $10,080 per year, Yacobellis said.
The township has yet to respond to a March 2 public records request from the Montclair local, requesting a copy of the report.
The Montclair skate park will be the first in the United States designed by Sablone, a graduate of MIT and Barnard College. She had previously designed a public skateable art space in Sweden. She visited Montclair in January 2021 to review the Montclair space and meet local skaters.
“Montclair has such a vibrant and inspiring community of skaters,” Sablone said in a Skate Essex press release regarding the grant. “You can tell how passionate they are with how they use and enjoy the existing skating spaces and how hard they have gone to improve and expand the space they have. I really look forward to seeing my sculptures there and hope they will be loved and weathered for years to come.
Construction is scheduled for late March, with groundbreaking in April, Linietsky said.
Although Sablone designed the sculptures, contractors 5th Pocket Skateparks will build them.
“The sculptures are made of concrete and coated with weatherable paint, they are designed to be weathered and are therefore less noisy than the DIY weatherable ramps and obstacles that are here now,” Linietsky said.
Last summer Skate Essex reinforced and insulated DIY equipment to dampen sounds after neighbors told the council the noise from the park was ‘deafening’. Linietsky said Skate Essex had not received any complaints since the equipment was isolated.
Council members Yacobellis and Robin Schlager, who worked to secure a skate park and sponsored the resolutions, said in a press release that the Sablone sculptures represent “the best that Montclair offers – art, positivity, community, athletics and diversity for the pleasure of all.”
In July last year, the City Council voted unanimously to pass a resolution support a permanent skate park at Rand Park.
The January resolution to expand Rand Park also directs the township administration to work with Skate Essex on the funding, development, operation and maintenance planning of a permanent skate park, in taking into account sites such as Rand.
“We’re excited to have this coming together now so we can have the sculptures built and ready by the end of April for the warmer months ahead in 2022,” Linietsky said.
Although the use of tennis courts as a temporary measure has been generally approved, tennis fans have expressed their opposition to the loss of playing space, particularly with the township’s announcement of its intention to take the four Rand Park courts.
In the event that another location is chosen for a permanent park in the future, the sculptures could be moved there, said Skate Essex board member Paul King.