CHATHAM, NJ - The reality that the Chatham Skate Park won't be relocated anytime soon came into focus on Monday night when the Chatham Township Planning Board approved the site plans for the 24-unit affordable housing building on Southern Boulevard.
The redevelopment plan for the "Arbor Green at Chatham" project says that the skate park "shall be completely demolished," and remain a passive open space. There is a stipulation that the skate park equipment be stored for a minimum of six months by the developers.
The Arbor Green building site had long-ago been designated as land set aside for affordable housing. The issue is further complicated by the fact that the Chatham Township Police Department, also located near the skate park, has a mandate to expand its jail cells by October 2020.
Last June, Chatham Township Administrator Robert Hoffmann had indicated that there were three potential sites where the skate park could be relocated in response to Lafayette students who came to the meeting of the Chatham Township Committee bearing 580 signatures on a petition to save the park.
"The skateboard park has always been temporary when you take a look at it," Hoffmann said. "No decision can be made for another location for the skateboard park until decisions have been made about affordable housing and some other things have to fall in place. There are other locations that are being looked at, there have been discussions with our sister communities, but that's about all I can say at this time."
Robert Hoffmann makes remarks about the skate park at planning board meeting
Further dimming the prospects for the relocation of the skate park is the need to expand the police department building. Hoffmann received a letter in July from the NJ Department of Corrections about required expansions that need to be made to the holding cells at the Chatham Township Police Department by October of 2020 and October of 2021.
"The new statutes require that male and female holding cells have to be on opposite sides of the building," Hoffmann said. "We also don't have a Sally Port, which is something that is required."
Without the improvements mandated by the state, the Chatham Township Police Department might not be able to use its jail cells.
The site plan for the affordable housing units had been changed from two buildings to one and the location on the property was shifted to accommodate the expansion of the police department. Hoffmann explains the mandates by the state in the video below.