As the city’s skatepark nears its first birthday, it’s still drawing large crowds and rave reviews.
“I always thought Bristol was a loser town until it did this,” said Jeremy Johnson, 17.
Johnson, a skateboarder, said there was “nothing to do” in town until the $500,000 skatepark opened last November at Rockwell Park.
“Now we just come here,” he said. “I have to say that it’s really nice.”
The 16,000-square-foot skatepark, built by California Skateparks, took seven years to come to fruition, the result of pressure from young people and an awareness of the need spurred by ESPN’s X Trials at Lake Compounce in 2001.
Skateboard legend Tony Hawk and other professional extreme athletes told The Tattoo’s teen journalists at the time that Bristol should have its own skatepark, an idea that resonated with young people in town.
Though the new skatepark has had its controversies – too much swearing, too much trash and perhaps too many lawsuits – officials are generally happy that it’s proven so successful.
Former city Councilor Ellen Zoppo said Saturday the skatepark is frequently busy and those using it are reasonably well-behaved.
“They look like they’re having fun,” said city Councilor Ken Cockayne.
Zoppo said her only real regret about it is that the skatepark couldn’t be done sooner, which left most of the young athletes who first called for it out of luck.
Cockayne said a few injury claims have been filed with the city and passed on for its insurance company to pay or deny. But it doesn’t appear the skatepark has created any serious liability issues.
What it has done for sure, though, is vastly reduce the number of skateboarders congregating illegally on private property downtown.
Cockayne said he rarely sees that anymore.
“What you really need to tell people,” said Liam Nelson, 15, “is that this park is great. I don’t know who to thank for it, but tell everybody thank you for building it.”
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