At the June 23rd, 2020 Town Meeting, an application for a $15,000 study to explore the possibility of a skatepark in Longmeadow was approved by voters. According to Center School students Burleigh Grant and his friends, they feel that Longmeadow is in need of a skatepark, as going to skateparks in the area is a common activity. However, as Longmeadow does not currently have a skatepark, getting to another town can be a challenge. Burleigh says, “We thought, wouldn’t it be great to have one here?” Cooper Rich, a Junior at LHS and an avid skater, shares similar sentiments. He says that, while people who play sports such as basketball and tennis have a dedicated space for practicing their skills, “Longmeadow doesn’t yet have anything to provide for the many people around town that skateboard, BMX, or scooter.”
After consulting with his father, Mr. Alex Grant, Burleigh and his friends “went to different places and tried to get signatures.” Taking the project from the idea phase to the Town Meeting was a lengthy process. After collecting the signatures, the boys were able to get a citizen petition put on the warrant, which allows the issue to be discussed at the Town Meeting. At the Fall Town Meeting on November 23, 2019, Burleigh and his friends gave a presentation about the proposed skatepark, but the town voted against the article. Mr. Grant believed that this was due to the fact that they “had not really vetted it with all the relevant committees.” They then submitted an application for a Community Preservation Act (CPA) Grant. The CPA is a Massachusetts state law passed in 2000 that allows communities to raise funds for, among other projects, “outdoor recreational facilities.”
Burleigh and Mr. Grant quickly assembled a team of avid skaters and adults in the community. Cooper, a member of the design committee, explained that the people working on the initial study of the park were split into two subcommittees. The first consists of adults in town who are working out town related details, such as location and legal concerns. The second group, known as the design committee, is deciding what features to include in the park and making it accessible to skaters of all skill levels. Gathering ideas for design features is an important step in the process, notes Mr. Grant, because before you “start putting pen to paper, you want to know what the users want out of [a skatepark].” Location is also an important aspect of the skatepark that will influence its usage upon completion. The team has determined 3 locations for the skatepark, two in Bliss Park and one at Greenwood Park. Bliss Park has the advantage of being more centrally located in town, added Burleigh and his father.
The soonest Longmeadow residents could see a skatepark in Longmeadow would be next Spring. However, the process can be longer than that depending on how long it takes to finalize a design and bring it back to the voters. Regardless, the skating community of Longmeadow has something to look forward to.