AP NEWS

Fundraising starts to bring skatepark to Redding

February 19, 2019

REDDING — A group of local skaters is trying to raise $200,000 to bring a new 5,000-square-foot skatepark to Fairfield County.

“There are a lot of young kids coming into this sport and they don’t have many places to go,” said Aidan Sheehan, a senior at Joel Barlow High School who has led the effort.

The skatepark already has support from the selectmen, about 300 residents and the park and recreation department, which set aside a plot of land on the slope by the community garden at the community center. The department also said it would assume the maintenance and insurance costs once the park is built, Sheehan said.

He added that he already has two donors lined up and said there could be an online campaign, as well as events to help raise money. Any money collected will go into a town account designated for the park.

Sheehan hopes to raise the money by the end of 2020 and have the park built by 2022.

He said the skateboarding community is tight-knit and this park would attract skaters from all over. A Ridgefield skater he’s befriended through these parks even accompanied him to the recent Redding selectmen meeting.

“A park in Redding, well built, will attract skaters from outside of the state too,” Sheehan said. “We live on the New York border and it’s not just kids from Redding coming.”

There are about 10 parks in Fairfield County, including ones in Danbury and Newtown. Sheehan said many people have to pass through Redding to get to those parks. He added that a new park would even attract skaters who live in towns with skateparks already because they would want to try new ones.

Of the existing parks, Sheehan said only Newtown, Stamford, Fairfield and Bridgeport are built of concrete. The others use movable equipment that are generally only good for about four years before repairs are needed. Danbury just did work at its park.

“Our plan is to build a fully concrete park,” Sheehan said. “That is what’s most appealing to skateboarders and requires the least amount of maintenance. While it’s the most costly at first, in the end you won’t have to pay for the resurfacing.”

He said there’s also less need for repairs to the ramps because they won’t be hollow.

State law requires the park to be fenced in, which First Selectwoman Julia Pemberton said also allows for the town to add hours of operation.

“We don’t want people skating at midnight and possibly getting injured,” she said.

Park and Recreation officials have also said they would help enforce crowd control for competitions and other permitted large events at the skate park, the selectmen said. There’s also an existing parking lot.

All three selectmen supported the project and commended Sheehan for his work. “You worked hard and it shows,” Selectwoman Peg O’Donnell said.

kkoerting@newstimes.com; 203-731-3345