WESTFIELD, NJ — Thirteen-year-old Alvin Minor and Josh Ettinger, owner of Travel Skateshop, made a case for a skate park in Westfield at Monday night’s recreation commission meeting.
Minor argued that skate parks provide a healthy alternative for people who don’t like team sports, promote social inclusion and provide a designated safe space for kids who want to ride their skateboards, bikes or scooters. He also emphasized that helmets are mandatory by law and can be displayed on signs to encourage safety.
“A town that does not have a skate park is a skate park,” he said.
Minor suggested that the town consider installing a skate park next to the basketball courts at Gumbert Park or the tennis courts by Walnut Street and Elm Street.
“It would be a really good thing for the community,” Ettinger said. “Skate parks only help bring in more people to the community and bring in people all around. Skate boarding got me where I am today. It’s a really positive thing.”
After concluding the presentation to a raucous round of applause, Mayor Shelley Brindle said that Minor went to her office a few weeks ago to speak with her about this project, where she asked him to do research.
“What an amazing experience for this kid to go through this, do research and actually present to the commission,” Brindle said. “I think he did a great job and I’m really excited that a kid would actually show talent in that way.”
Later on, Westfield resident Jamie Meiselman, a co-leader of the Union County Chapter of the Jersey Off Road Bicycling Association (JORBA), presented a plan to improve the trails in Tamaques Park and Brightwood Park at Monday night’s recreation commission meeting.
JORBA played a large role in the debates about mountain biking in Watchung Reservation, which the Union County Freeholders denied last year.
Meiselman said the existing trails could be improved and new, multi-use trails could be built. Biking is currently allowed on those trails.
“There’s a really nice trail system that’s run through these woods here,” Meiselman said. “They are in pretty bad shape, not only in the shape that they’re in, but the layout. They could be much better, and that includes closing some, improving some and rerouting.”
Meiselman also emphasized that JORBA aims to build multi-use trails for walkers, bikers and equestrians.
“It’s not about mountain biking, we always encourage multi-use trails,” Meiselman said. “The ideal solution for us is to always work with whoever’s stakeholders in that park. We all work together and find that this is the best way to create multi-use trails for everyone to enjoy.”
To improve the trails, Meiselman asked for permission for JORBA to clean up the woods and adopt the existing trail systems.
“If you need manpower to improve or clean up the park, that’s our primary purpose,” he said. “We make parks better.”
Although the commission did not make a decision following the presentation, one member of the commission mentioned that Brightwood is a naturalized park, which does not allow for man-made trails.
The recreation commission also discussed the delayed renovations to Tamaques Park. To read more about the delay, click here.