Skatepark opens in North Point Park

 

Cambridge Chronicle

By Natalie Handy                   November 18, 2015

People stand on their bikes during the opening day of the Lynch Family Skate Park in Cambridge, Nov. 14, 2015. (Wicked Local Photo/Adam Glanzman)

People stand on their bikes during the opening day of the Lynch Family Skate Park in Cambridge, Nov. 14, 2015. (Wicked Local Photo/Adam Glanzman)

CAMBRIDGE

Though professional skateboarder Andy MacDonald grew up in Boston, he’s lived in San Diego for the past 22 years. MacDonald moved, he joked last week, because he got tired of waiting for the city to build a skatepark.

After decades of planning, MacDonald finally got his wish with the opening of the Lynch Family Skatepark by North Point Park in Cambridge on Nov. 14. MacDonald travels around the world to help open public skateparks, and said he knows how much of a difference they can make.

“I know people who have been skating in Boston since the mid-1970s, waiting 30-plus years for a place that kids can come skate in a safe, fun, positive environment, and that’s what the Lynch Family Skatepark is all about,” he said at the park’s opening ceremonies with Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, Cambridge Mayor David Maher, Lynch Foundation founder Peter Lynch and vice president of Vans Steve Van Doren.

“Today we’re blessed. Everything that’s happening today is a miracle — this is a sanctuary. This is not just for skateboarders, this is for the entire community,” said professional skateboarder Tony Alva, who traveled from Los Angeles for the event.

The park, which has been in the works for the past 15 years, was created through the Charles River Conservancy and will be operated by the state, but was built with investments from the Lynch Foundation and Vans, among others. Vans donated $1.5 million to the park, and in addition will pay $25,000 every year for the next seven years for park maintenance.

The park evolved from an idea from sculptor Nancy Schön, who caught skateboarders jumping over her Tortoise and the Hare sculptures in Copley Square years ago, inspiring her to find them another place to skate. In honor of Schön’s statues, the skatepark has large cement etchings of a tortoise and hare at its entrance.

Until now, there has never been a designated area to skateboard around Boston, equally frustrating skaters, parents and members of law enforcement. In his speech to the crowd, Maher acknowledged the CRC for taking an otherwise useless area and turning it into something that benefits a high number of people.

“Thank you for taking an area of our community, and reimagining what it could be. To take an area that was really underutilized, here we are under this bridge and off-ramp, and to say, this could be a great park where people of all ages could come and have a great time,” Maher said.

Massachusetts State Sen. Sal DiDomenico, who grew up near the former transfer station at the park, echoed Maher’s comments and reflected on his own memories of being told to stay away from the area.

“When I was a kid, we were told not to come to this part of the city because there was nothing good that came out of here, it’s a place not meant for kids or families. Today, to the work of so many people, this is the fruits of their labors,” DiDomenico said.

The park offers something for everyone, MacDonald said. The stage where he stood had handrails and stairs to simulate street skating, catering to those whose only opportunity to skate was on the street. In the spring, lights will be installed around the park so skaters can stay later.

Aside from the community benefits, skateboarding can change lives on a spiritual level, Alva said. Alva, 58, said he took destructive paths in his early years and credits his past 10 years of sobriety to skateboarding.

“Skateboarding gave me something that I was finally good at it. It gives you equanimity in life, which is spiritual balance. Basically, skateboarding saved my life,” Alva said.

Alva said his ambition is what caused him to seek trouble when he was younger, and skateboarding was his outlet to release energy in a positive way.

“I had the courage to change, and the courage to change is really big in this world today. By helping the community, and giving kids this sanctuary, giving them a chance to experience something that’s willingness and faith and the courage to change – that’s a big deal,” Alva said.

Read the original article on WickedLocal Cambridge: http://cambridge.wickedlocal.com/article/20151118/NEWS/151115797/

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