Skateboarders stoked about Hampton park upgrades

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By Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union, Tuesday, September 4, 2012

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online]

Ethan Whaley of Exeter practices some moves at the newly redesigned Hampton Recreation Skate Park. [Rich Beauchesne Photo]
["I think we got a lot of bang for the buck," Martin said. "What they designed and created, the community is going to love it. There is so much more to do in the park. We had a good park before but now I think we have a premier park."
Dyana Martin, Director, Hampton Parks and Recreation Department.]

HAMPTON -- Totally sick. That is what one skater called the new Hampton Skateboard Park after nearly $60,000 was spent updating it, first with the addition of a concrete bowl and now with a completely new street plaza.

"It's probably now one of the best parks in the area," said skater Chris Wells.

On a recent sunny day, more than three dozen skaters from around the Seacoast were at the park off Hardart's Way and there was nothing but "props" for the new look.

WhoSkates, of Kennebunk, Maine, recently finished the $35,000 project to renovate the existing "street plaza" portion of the park, a project that voters approved at the March 13 election.

The new plaza incorporates a lot of the features skaters look for including rails, drops, ledges and stairs.

The park still maintains the popular 8-foot wooden half-pipe as well as the concrete bowl installed last year.

Dyana Martin, director of the town's Parks and Recreation Department, said the company did a tremendous job in the upgrades.

"I think we got a lot of bang for the buck," Martin said.

"What they designed and created, the community is going to love it. There is so much more to do in the park. We had a good park before but now I think we have a premier park."

For John Millstein, of Exeter, the project was long overdue. He's been skating at the park for about 10 years.

"A lot of the old parks in New Hampshire and New England are just concrete plopped down without any thought," Millstein said. "There was a lot of thought that went into designing this."

Ethan Whaley said he considers the park one of the best outdoor parks around.

"It's great for the kids and the skaters of the Seacoast," said Whaley.

Christos Valhouli, who put forth the petition warrant article for the project, said he and others just wanted to continue the improvements done last year with the installation of the skateboard bowl.

"To say we are pleased by the construction that would be an understatement," Valhouli said.

Valhouli said a lot of people worked behind the scenes to get the project done, including Steve O'Hara, owner of Pioneers Surf Shop in North Hampton, and members of the Friends of the Hampton Skateboard Park.

Valhouli credited Hampton residents Johnny Grasso and Bryan Johnson with working with the construction company to develop the design.

"I'm glad they were involved because they are both skaters and they have their finger on the pulse on what skaters want," Valhouli said.

"From what I've been hearing from the skaters they hit it out of the park."

But he said none of it would have been done without the support of the selectmen and the community.

Martin said they're planning an official grand opening of the new park sometime this month.

While the park is open now, Valhouli said they want to complete some landscaping as well as add some picnic tables.

Corey Siatkowski of East Kingston, a skateboarder for 10 years, rips it up with his buddies on the newly redesigned Hampton skate park. [Rich Beauchesne Photo]

Jake Bortilier of Exeter skateboards with his buddies at the newly redesigned Hampton skate park. [Rich Beauchesne Photo]

Helmets Save Lives

Letter to the Editor

by Lisa Merrill

Hampton Union, September 14, 2012

To the Editor:

I saw your article Sept. 4 about the upgrades to the skateboard park in Hampton — the first two words being "Totally sick." This is how I felt when my son this past Memorial Day lost balance on his skateboard and fell backwards on the hard pavement with no helmet. Totally sick is how I felt when I rode in med flight watching my son fight for his life on his way Brigham and Women's Hospital to the head trauma unit where he spent 30 days in ICU, then off to inpatient rehab for two weeks and today continuing to recover with outpatient rehab.

I have nothing against skateboarding. I think it's great that they have a place for the sport. It looks like a fun time with great physical activity. What bothered me is that I did not see one boarder wearing a helmet or any safety gear in any of the pictures. The town spent $60,000 on upgrades to the park; perhaps the town could hang a sign about safety and the importance of helmets. Put your helmet on before entering the park! Take some time and funds and teach safety to the boarders who use the park. Let's encourage the boarders to wear their helmet.

My friend and I rode by the park one day; not one boarder was wearing a helmet. We spoke to them, told them about my son and showed them pictures of the 97 staples that he had in his head because he had to have a large piece of skull removed for brain swelling. Some of them listened to us seriously and were very respectful. I hope they are now wearing helmets. And, of course, there were some who didn't care.

I am writing to you today to advocate for skateboard safety. Wear a helmet! Please!

I have learned that most head trauma in young adults is caused by skateboarding. A 26-year-old skateboarder was in the next room to my son's with a head injury also caused by skateboarding.

I'm not sure why I'm writing to you or what I expect from this, but I saw the article and felt compelled to write to you. I guess for what I've been through, I feel the need to advocate WEAR YOUR HELMET WHILE SKATEBOARDING. Believe me, nobody wants to go through crisis. How about the next time an article is written about the park, include a few words about safety.

Lisa Merrill


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