Press-Republican

August 29, 2013

Skateboard park wins $25K Tony Hawk grant

By KIM SMITH DEDAM
Press-Republican

---- — SARANAC LAKE — The crew of kids and adults building the SkatePark here have a big win.

The Tony Hawk Foundation, based in California, awarded $25,000 to their design/build effort.

Saranac Lake’s was the largest grant given nationwide among awards that reached 11 communities, including just two on the East Coast.

DEDICATION CITED

“Saranac Lake is a small town of about 5,000 residents in Upstate New York that has rallied around its skaters and made their new SkatePark a priority,” Tony Hawk Foundation announced in a statement.

“With fundraising events like hot-dog sales, raffles, car washes and even a teen band night, it was evident to the Board of Directors that the residents of Saranac Lake are willing to do just about anything to accomplish the new SkatePark for their youth. 

“The dedication of the skaters and their supporters, and the small town’s ambitious plans to create a substantial 5,200-square-foot concrete SkatePark in the village center, convinced the Board Of Directors to cast their votes to award Saranac Lake the highest grant award of $25,000,” the foundation announced.

‘ALL ABOUT THE KIDS’

Rich Shapiro, spokesman for the SkatePark Committee in Saranac Lake, said they learned of the award in a phone call about 4:30 p.m. Monday.

“We were wishful thinking, we were hoping for $5,000. It’s great reinforcement,” Shapiro said Wednesday.

“It’s so good because this adds credibility that an organization 3,000 miles away would contribute to a small town effort.”

SkatePark Committee President Peggy Wiltberger said they are thrilled.

“We received the top award for this semester’s grant cycle, and we are elated and honored. The fact that the community and the kids have been working toward this goal for close to 10 years struck a chord with the Tony Hawk Foundation directors,” she said via email.

“They appreciate and understand the difficulties of a grassroots effort in a small community. It was the unflagging efforts of committee members over the many years and the continual support of the kids. And it is all about the kids.”

OTHER FUNDRAISING

The grant request was sent to Tony Hawk Foundation at the end of July.

“The decision was quick,” Shapiro said. “We still need to raise close to another $47,000, but this is a major step.

“We also won a $5,000 grant from the Stewart’s Shops Foundation. For two weeks in the end of July and the beginning of August, we held a campaign where they would match donations at local Stewart’s Shops.”

The SkatePark Committee and its group of focused skateboarding fundraisers also held three barbecues at Ace Hardware in Saranac Lake this summer.

“We raised $1,000 between those three barbecues,” Shapiro said.

“All told, this is exciting. It gets us over the hurdle. We’ve raised two-thirds of the cash that we need.”

PROJECT LAUDED

The Tony Hawk Foundation, established by world renowned skateboarder Tony Hawk in 2002, looked to Saranac Lake for inspiration.

“This semester’s top project exemplifies all of the practices and characteristics we love to see in skateparks,” Program Director Peter Whitley said in a statement. 

“Saranac Lake’s skateboarders have worked through several obstacles in their nine-year effort. Through their dedication, generations of youth will have a safe, engaging place to pursue what they love in a community that recognizes and supports their investment.

“Saranac Lake’s SkatePark project is the kind of effort we are honored to be involved with.”

According to their web statistics, Tony Hawk Foundation has supported construction and the opening of 417 skateparks to date. The organization serves nearly 4.5 million children annually.

“With the remaining grant recipients scheduled to open their parks in the next 12 months, an estimated 5 million young people annually will use facilities that received financial aid and development guidance from the Tony Hawk Foundation.”

FINAL PUSH

Wiltberger said they are ready for the final push to finish, looking with village planners to break ground next spring.

“We were given the award based on perseverance, grassroots effort, the support of the community at large and the quality concrete design. We are really thankful to the Village (of Saranac Lake for all the time and effort they have put in to plan for the SkatePark and for their commitment of (in-kind) services to see this project completed.”

The final design was created by skateboard park designer Brad Siedlecki of Pillar Design, based in Arizona. Siedlecki grew up in nearby Star Lake and was here this summer to visit the site chosen in May.

The new park will be built in the Midtown Lot owned by the village, behind the Community Bank off Broadway. Some seven locations were reviewed in Saranac Lake before the final site was chosen.

Email Kim Smith Dedam:kdedam@pressrepublican.com

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ON THE WEB

More information about the project and ways to help donate are online at www.slskatepark.org

A view of the 5,200-square-foot area and the green space surrounding it is posted at www.gtgtandems.com/skatepark.pdf