By Nathan Mayberg
MONTICELLO November 10, 2006 After just a few months of planning, the Village of Monticello has turned out a skateboard park that has drawn dozens of youth out on a regular basis since it opened two weeks ago.
The village received a $30,000 grant from New York State Senator Bonacic, $6,500 from the Project Dream Foundation (started by Robert Berman) and $2,500 from the Hudson Valley Building and Trades Council.
At the official opening last week, high school students were ecstatic as they enjoyed the new course. Duane Kosley, 15, of Monticello, said he “loves it.” Of course, nothing is perfect. The kids would also like to see stairs to do tricks, as well as a handrail to slide on.
J.R. Jernigan, 15, of Monticello, has been skating at the park everyday since it opened, as has several of his fellow skaters. He has been skateboarding for 7 years, but he has had to travel to places like Kingston to enjoy a skateboard park.
Tyler Solomon, another skateboarder, said the park is “good for Monticello.”
The park is open to skateboard and rollerbladers. Although bicycles were seen at the park last week, they are prohibited.
Bonacic attended the official opening last week while in the midst of a vigorous campaign effort. “We are pleased to provide a recreational asset for the kids and families,” he said.
An additional $30,000 could be on the way from Bonacic for the park, said Mayor James Barnicle and Parks and Recreation Director Betsy Conaty. That is because the village did not use funds from a previous state grant, and would like to cross it over for the park and de Hoyas Park.
A fence will be constructed by the Hudson Valley Building and Trades Council over the next couple weeks.
Barnicle said the park “meets a need for the kids. Two years ago, we put up a basketball court. There are no color barriers here. All races are represented here. It gives kids another recreational opportunity besides the basketball court. It congregates them in one space that is safe and social. It provides them with an opportunity for exercise. It shows kids that the village will try and get things done in order for kids to have fun.”
Village Trustee Victor Marinello attended the opening and said the park is “wonderful. It is about time. We, the village, woke up and provided tools for our children to be a part of. We established a basketball court two years ago, and now this. Our children need this. They need as many opportunities as possible to keep them off the streets and doing something constructive and becoming a part of the community in a good way. This is the first administration to offer opportunities for our kids in years. The Mayor is a great advocate for the children.”
Village trustee Gordon Jenkins said the park is “nice for the kids. It’s something for them to do. There are not a lot of sports for them to do.” Jenkins would also like to see indoor sports activities. The idea of a youth center has been proposed within the village and town.
Jenkins said there should be few limits when it comes to spending on the area’s youth. As an employee of the Sullivan Correctional Facility, he has seen inmates treated to “class A gyms” with racquetball courts, basketball and weightlifting.
As a token of his dedication to the new park, Jenkins plans on sponsoring several children with helmets, pads and sneakers to skateboard with.
Conaty said she will be working with Monticello Police Department Detective Doug Tuno on gathering donations for pads and helmets for the kids. Those interested, may contact Conaty at her office, by calling 794-2351.
Barnicle said the police will be checking up on the park to make sure there are no problems. While the skateboarders and rollerbladers seemed to be having a blast together, there were some kids on bikes who caused a confrontation before the official opening, and made several threats which resulted in police responding to the scene.