FANWOOD, NJ – At Tuesday night’s meeting, the Fanwood Council debated the approval of a new skateboard park to be located at Forest Road Park. The plan calls for the $124,000 park to be funded equally by a grant from the Union County Kids Recreation Trust Fund as well as the Fanwood Recreation Trust Fund.
With Phase Two of the Fanwood Parks and Recreation Department’s Five-Year Master Plan completed, they are now moving on to consider the skateboard park, officially making the plans public at an information booth at Fanny Wood Day this past September and at an information night held last month. Some possible renderings were presented at the meeting.
“The Recreation Commission has studied this extensively, they have done public outreach and based on their research they have come to Council to unanimously ask us to move forward with this concept,” said Mayor Colleen Mahr.
Anthony Carter, a representative of the Fanwood Parks and Recreation Department, gave a presentation about the skateboard park that specifically addressed concerns raised at the public meeting. He stressed the importance of the park as a way to “provide and encourage recreation and recreational opportunities for all residents of Fanwood.”
Carter reasoned that the maintenance of the skateboard park would place little extra strain on those who maintain the rest of Forest Road Park. A regular janitor cleans the park nearly every day, so litter is a non-issue. Also, the fact that the skateboard park will be made of concrete instead of wood or asphalt gives credence to fact that the park will last longer and be quieter when skated on.
As liability was a major concern, Carter made it clear that all skaters will be required to wear a helmet as well as elbow and knee pads; not to mention have a signed waiver by a parent in order to use the facility. Also, the presentation showed that skateboarding actually has fewer injuries per 1,000 households than baseball, soccer, or football.
In addition, Carter emphasized that local residents need not worry about “skater hooliganism." The new park would bring skateboarders off the streets and into a public and police-patrolled area. Skateboarders would be able to help each other and share new tricks in a safe and controlled environment without the worry of disturbing anyone else.
Also, the facility will feature 10-foot fences with a time-locked gate that automatically closes at night for added security. However, citizens are still concerned about the type of people the new park may bring into their neighborhood as well as the feeling that the money may be better spent on Fanwood’s parks in general.
“They’re good kids. Hooliganism is simply not an issue,” said Carter, citing his children and their friends, who are avid skaters themselves. “If you see the kids doing something they shouldn’t be, just say, 'Knock it off'."