Project tracker: Vans gives Cambridge skatepark project a boost

 

By Sara Feijo, sfeijo@wickedlocal.com

 

CAMBRIDGE

Ten years in the making, Cambridge will finally break ground on the North Point skatepark this month. For skateboarders dreaming of this day, the long-awaited Lynch Family Skatepark will most likely be open by the end of next year, according to a spokesman for the Charles River Conservancy.

The conservancy recently received a $1.5 million donation from Vans, a manufacturer of sports apparel, which helped to move the project forward, spokeswoman S.J. Port said.

Vans will also contribute $25,000 each year for seven years to the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) for ongoing maintenance of the park, Port said.

The project has been in the works for a decade after facing multiple obstacles, including lack of funding and a complicated land parcel transfer.

The 40,000-square-foot urban skate park, which is expected to cost a total of $4.5 million, will be located beneath the ramps of the Leonard P. Zakim Memorial Bridge in North Point Park, a former brownfield controlled by the state Department of Transportation (MassDOT).

Following Vans’ donation, MassDOT completed the land transfer to DCR, which will maintain the park, Port said.

“MassDOT, DCR and Federal Highway finally agreed on language regarding the transfer of the parcel from MassDOT’s ownership to DCR’s ownership,” Port said Friday.

The Lynch Family Skatepark—named after the Lynch Foundation— will break ground Oct. 23 at 9 a.m., Port said.

“We hope to have that contract for construction finalized within the next week or two,” Port said. “That timeline and the weather this winter will determine how long it takes to construct the skate park.”

Cement, she said, cannot be poured when temperatures drop below a certain point, but the Conservancy is hopeful that the park will be covered in skaters by this time next year, Port said.

The park will also cater to BMX riders, in-line skaters, scooter riders and athletes in wheelchairs, and it will serve as a venue for professional skating events, according to a recent press release.

The skate park is the brainchild of Renata von Tscharner, president and founder of the Charles River Conservancy, and Nancy Schon, advisory board member for the Conservancy.

Von Tscharner envisioned a park under the Zakim Bridge along the Charles River while teaching at Harvard’s Radcliffe Landscape Seminars, according to a statement. In 2000, she formed the Charles River Conservancy to promote the stewardship, renewal and enhancement of the urban parklands along the Charles River, and the skatepark became one of the Conservancy’s signature projects.

“The skatepark will be a tremendous addition to North Point Park and the community of skaters who have waited far too long for this park,” von Tscharner said Friday. “I can’t wait to open the skatepark and watch skaters — young and old — finally enjoy this incredible venue. May this public-private partnership between the Conservancy and DCR lead to many more efforts to enrich the urban riverfront parklands.

Meanwhile Schon, a local sculptor, envisioned a skatepark after learning that skateboarders were using her sculptures to practice. She spoke to skaters about the damage they were doing to her sculptures, and that’s when she realized they had very few places to skate in the Greater Boston area.

“My conversations with skateboarders were enlightening,” Schon said in a statement. “I realized that these skateboarders were not kids who wanted to cause trouble, but athletes with few places to practice.”

“This skate park sends an important message to young people that the Boston area embraces the creativity, innovation and risk that so many of them embody,” Schon added. “These attributes are critical to being an urban area on the cutting edge.”

Designed by Stantec, the Lynch Family Skatepark will be free and open to the public.

 

Contact Chronicle reporter Sara Feijo at sfeijo@wickedlocal.com or follow her on Twitter at @s_fjo. Read the original article here: http://cambridge.wickedlocal.com/article/20141013/NEWS/141018814/?Start=1

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