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Skate of the union: Bangor Skatepark ramps things up

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Skate of the union: Bangor Skatepark ramps things up (Photo courtesy of Drew Lohman)

BANGOR - Strap on a set of wheels or climb on deck - after years in the making, the new Bangor Skatepark is open for business. 

Located in Hayford Park off 13th Street in Bangor, the skatepark features some 7,000 square feet of concrete, complete with ramps and bars for tricks. The City of Bangor’s Parks and Rec department opened the park to the public in early September. Skateboards, bikes, roller skates - and any other wheeled apparatus you can conjure up - are welcome.

For Drew Lohman, a member of the Bangor Skatepark Committee, which advocated for the park’s construction, this is a monumental achievement. “It’s Maine; we don’t have many skateparks here,” says Lohman. “The closest skatepark to Bangor is either Bar Harbor or Augusta. Now that the skatepark is here ... it’s become one of the premier skateparks in Maine.” 

It’s not easy to earn the title of “premier.” Nor is it easy to construct a nearly quarter-million-dollar skatepark ... in a small Maine city ... during a global pandemic. But a skatepark isn’t built in a day, as the old saw goes. The Bangor skate community has been diligent in their efforts to bring this project to fruition. 

It began in 2012, when the long-standing skatepark at Bass Park was removed to make way for the Cross Insurance Center. The ramps were moved to an old foundation on Union Street, dubbed “The Slab,” as a temporary home, while the city discussed plans for relocation. Unfortunately, those plans were shunted aside. The Slab was not fully visible from the road, which led to some unsavory happenings, and as it fell into disrepair, local skaters found themselves without a safe space to gather.

Fast forward to 2016, when Bangor Parks and Rec announced that they had earmarked $125,000 for a new skatepark. The question was - where? The Bangor Skatepark Committee, made up of local skate aficionados, played an active role in the deliberation. “Starting in 2016, I attended every single town hall meeting regarding where the skatepark was going to go,” says committee member Lohman. Finally, in 2019, the city settled upon a location in Hayford Park. 

There was one problem: $125,000 would only buy a 2,300 square foot surface - that’s half the size of a basketball court. Unless more funds could be gathered, local skaters would be stuck with the Tinkerbell of skateparks. But the Bangor Skatepark Committee was ready to buckle down: they raised $45,000 between January and April 2021. Donors included Maine Community Foundation’s Ollie Fund, Jane and John Bragg, Bangor Savings Bank, Cross Insurance, Stoked Real Estate LLC and the Skatepark Project, along with community members, who donated through the Parks & Rec website. Soon after, the city contributed another $50,000. The skatepark had more than tripled in size, to 7,000 square feet - big enough for the Statue of Liberty to sunbathe on the concrete. 

The original plan called for multiple phases of construction, spread over months. The budget expansion, however, has allowed all construction to be completed at once. Except for a bit of landscaping left to be done, the park is in its final form. This is good news for skaters, who have been flocking from across the state - and from more distant horizons - to patronize the park. A young acquaintance of mine encountered a roller-skater on a quest to visit skateparks all across the country. (She called it a “Fifty State Skate.”) Of course, the primary clientele is closer to home. Visit the Bangor Skatepark on a clear afternoon, and you’ll find local skaters, young and old, practicing their craft. They’re not indoors, staring at the pocket-sized internet - they’re sailing around, flipping their boards, loud and happy. 

The park’s grand opening event, a Halloween Skate Jam, is on Sunday, October 10th, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The skate contest will run from 1 to 2, with prizes including a $20 gift card to Pat’s Bike Shop. Pompeii Pizza will be dishing up the dough. Costumes are encouraged. Skate on over - you certainly won’t be board.

(For more information, follow the Bangor Skatepark on Facebook.) 

Last modified on Wednesday, 06 October 2021 08:43

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