Newton native helps design skate park


Newton TAB

Boston — Twenty years ago, Newton native Andy Macdonald graduated Newton North High School and left for California to pursue a career as a professional skater. At the time, Boston was not a thriving environment for young skaters with dreams of going pro. Two decades and eight X-Games gold metals later, Macdonald returned to Boston to participate in the design process of the skate park that will transform the region’s skating scene.

Skateboarding is one of the most popular recreational sports in the country—yet skate parks around Boston are scarce. Skaters have been cast into the streets with few areas to practice. But this may change by the end of next year. That’s when the Charles River skate park, which will be the largest skate park in New England, is scheduled to be complete, and skaters will have a new dedicated place to skate.

The skate park caught Macdonald’s attention. In September, he traveled to Boston to see the project first-hand, meeting with the Charles River Conservancy, the non-profit organization building the park.

Conservancy President Renata von Tscharner was thrilled.

“We try to include as many members of the skate community in the design process as possible,” she said. “We are lucky to have pros like Andy participate.”

The Conservancy has met with the skate community throughout the planning process, garnering input from hundreds of skaters from across the region.

Macdonald met with the skate park designers, ASD-Stantec, whose team includes principal designer, Mike McIntyre, and former pro skater, Kanten Russell. McIntyre envisions the Charles River Skate park as the first of many new skate parks in the region, a boon to the long-neglected skating community.

Over the years skaters have witnessed the destruction of popular skate spots as city officials implement skate-proof designs in an effort to deter the sport. Macdonald recalls the once popular Beverly Pepper Sculpture near Government Center known to skaters as “metals” that is now protected by an anti-skater barrier of cobblestone and chain link railing. A similar sculpture is featured in the entry to the new skate park in homage to Boston’s skating history.

Alongside local pro skater, Anthony Shetler, Macdonald reviewed the concept designs and toured the future skate park site. At the public design meeting, he spoke before the crowd of young skaters whom have eagerly waited many years for the skate park to be complete.”I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think this skate park was happening,” Macdonald said. Site regulations and multiple setbacks have kept the skate park in planning for 10 years. In 2006, then-Gov. Mitt Romney vetoed state funding for the project despite overwhelming support from the state legislature. And in the wake of the financial crisis in 2008, the project was stalled again by concerns of the looming state budget cuts. But the Conservancy’s efforts to build the skate park didn’t falter and to date it has raised $2.5 million to build the park. In July, it signed an agreement with project partner, Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), placing DCR in control of all future operations and maintenance after the skate park is complete.

Since Macdonald’s visit, the design team has incorporated input from the skating community and pros like Macdonald and Shetler into the designs. Both the Conservancy and the designers are excited to see the final design taking shape

The Conservancy expects the skate park to be open by the end of 2013. For more information the visit the Conservancy website, park.html Skaters in Newton can also look forward to the new West Suburban YMCA skate park set to open in spring 2013. The skate park will feature rails, half- and quarter-pipes, ramps and grind boxes, and will be available to the public free of charge.



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