Warwick Skate Park Initiative introduces its vision to the public

Warwick. New state-of-the-art skate park draws supporters and those with concerns.

31 Oct 2019 | 10:26

Approximately 50 people came to the Warwick Skate Park Initiative’s public forum Tuesday night to learn more about the proposed project that would have a state-of-the-art skate park built in Veterans Memorial Park, replacing the current one built 20 years ago.

This new skate park would be made of concrete, which is more durable than the wooden ramps in the current park. According to the organizers, the new facility would require less maintenance, encourage more inclusivity by attracting bikes, scooters and skateboards, and possibly be a potential Olympic training ground. Skateboarding will become an Olympic sport in 2020.

“The current skate park is very antiquated,” said Warwick Mayor Michael Newhard, who told the story of how a bunch of “scrappy young men” approached his dad, Robert Newhard Sr., who was a village trustee and liaison to Parks and Recreation back in 1996, to propose a skate park in Veterans Memorial Park.

Newhard picked up the torch after his father died before the skate park could become a reality. He became a village trustee and worked with the kids to get the park built. It opened in 1999.

Not a cheap endeavor

Pat Tyler and Stephen Wanczowski are the driving forces behind this project, which will be approximately 75 by 100 feet in size. They have been skating themselves for more than 20 years and attempted to have a park built in Vernon. That “fell on deaf ears.” So they turned to Warwick.

Tyler, who graduated from Warwick Valley High School and now lives here with his family, said they raised $37,000 and will use that money for a Warwick skate park. But they have a long way to go to reach their goal. The estimate is $300,000. The Initiative is raising funds by selling T-shirts, buttons, magnets and engraved pavers. They plan to host other fund raisers.

“This will be an excellent facility for recreational skateboarders as well as the skateboard athletes,” said Tyler.

Questions about the location

The proposed new skate park would be located toward the back of the park, past the baseball and softball fields and next to the pavilion. About a dozen residents of Warwick Grove questioned whether other locations were considered. They voiced concern that the park would create noise and traffic and ultimately devalue their homes.

Newhard said a traffic study would be done as part of the SEQRA (State Environmental Quality Review Act) process. Engineer Dave Getz said the site actually mitigates many of the impacts because of the topography. Donna Kaminski, who is part of the Initiative, said the landscape buffers the noise. She also noted that most kids who use the skate park won’t be driving there – they use their boards for transportation. This location has close access to the pavilion, shade, drinking water, parking and bathroom facilities.

The village will be responsible for liability insurance. Newhard noted that in the 20 years of skateboarding in the existing skate park, there have been no lawsuits against the village.

Many in the audience were enthusiastic about the new skate park.

“This will bring more value to your homes,” said one man when a resident questioned the effect on his home.

Added another: “This is a great thing for our kids and our community.”

New skate parks are being built in Greenwood Lake, Middletown, Port Jervis and Newburgh

“We’re not the ogres here,” said Barbara Bald, president of the Warwick Grove Homeowners Association. “We really are very supportive of this but, baseball games, we do hear it. It impacts us.”

Newhard said the questions are important and the impacts will be discussed and mitigated.

“We don’t expect Warwick Grovers to use it (the skate park) but your grandkids may. Your grandchildren will be there,” said Newhard. “This is a people’s park. We have to have room for everyone."

What’s next

Warwick Skate Park Initiative is looking for volunteers. They plan to form committees for marketing, fund raising, accounting and grant writing and urge anyone with those skills to contact them.

To learn more, follow the Warwick Skate Park Initiative on Facebook or email to warwickskatepark@gmail.com.