Monday, June 24, 2024

Let’s Build Rutland Vermont a Skatepark

For over 20 years, kids and kids at heart enjoyed having a destination skatepark in Rutland. Formerly known as Zero Gravity and more recently Flipside, the thousands of square feet of ever-changing ramps and rails gave people something to do, and a safe place to go each summer. Of course, it was not without its drawbacks.

The wood ramps needed regular repair and since it was housed inside Giorgetti park, it had to be disassembled each winter in time for hockey. Because of its indoor location, the park needed to be staffed when open and cost money to use.

These reasons made it seem reasonable when during Covid, the Rutland Recreation  Department decided to give away all the ramps in favor of breaking ground on a state-of-the-art concrete park as soon as a location was established and funding was secured. They said they had no doubt Covid grant money would foot most of the bill.

Well, the pandemic is over, the ramps are gone, and Rutland is still without a skatepark. Meanwhile, Manchester has expanded its facility and is drawing attention from around New England. Ludlow is in the process of rebuilding its long-standing park with a new one, scheduled to open in August. These are smaller towns than Rutland, but clearly ones that are more forward-thinking and interested in the health, happiness and general well-being of their youth.

The Rutland Rec Department, meanwhile, has made no discernible progress on the Rutland park and my personal attempts to help fundraise and plan this project have gone unanswered. When I do catch someone in public and ask, “Where’s the skatepark?” I always receive the same answer. “It’s on the list.”

For a city that has enacted an entire marketing campaign around being a hub for outdoor recreation, it is not just disappointing, but embarrassing that the powers that be show no interest in fulfilling their promises to build a concrete park.

A skatepark is an asset to any community. It is part playground, part training facility, part social club and most importantly, fun for all ages. It is not just for skateboarders but bikes, in-line skates and scooters, too. Even RC car enthusiasts have been know to take a rip around these concrete marvels. Visit any town or city with a quality skatepark and you’ll see it receiving constant use, while the surrounding ball fields and green spaces sit empty 90% of the time.

As of July 5, 2023, the skatepark remains on the list. Bookmark this page for updates as we work to raise money and help build a park we can all enjoy.