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The Carletonian

Northfield ramps up for skate park project

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Skateboard savants, enthusiasts, and dabblers, your week just got a whole lot better. As early as September, there will be a skatepark in Northfield.

The news comes after a Tuesday, Jan. 20 City Council meeting in which Northfield agreed to fund the remaining cost of construction, effectively reversing a 20-year ban on downtown skateboarding.

Construction is made possible by the work of the Northfield Skateboard Coalition (NSC) and by financial support from Northfield Rotary.

NSC member Brandon Nelson ’16 credits the coalition for its significant role in the park’s creation. “Many of Carleton’s past and present skaters are active members,” he said. “It has brought people from all parts of Northfield together and demonstrated the power of youth civic engagement.”

In a Northfield News article, Classics professor Rob Hardy, who advises NSC, highlights the role of the Parks and Recreation Board, as well as the general city staff in the park’s construction.

“Since the current council was first seated in January 2013, a location for the skateboard park has been approved, a design firm has been chosen and a concept design has been approved, and just over $120,000 has been allocated for the construction of the park,” he said. “This is certainly not evidence of a Council that has dragged its feet.”

In the early 1990s, the City placed a ban on skateboarding downtown with the concession that it would build a skatepark. Nothing substantial happened until 2006, when the Northfield Skateboard Coalition was established.

Working with The Key and the Northfield Union of Youth, the NSC raised awareness and in Nelson’s words, “pressured the City to follow through with its word on building a safe place for the town’s youth.”

Through fundraising and widespread awareness for the cause, these three organizations won a hefty donation from Northfield Rotary, and the City agreed to pay for the rest.

The skatepark will be located in Old Memorial Park, four blocks from Watson. “It will undoubtedly be a fantastic resource for Carls and the community alike,” said Nelson.

With regard to the timeline of construction, Nelson comments, “Bids to decide which construction company will lead the project begin in March with construction scheduled for the summer to be finished optimistically by September 2015.”

The youth of Northfield are understandably stoked for the park. As Hardy writes, “The day after the Council meeting they were already down at The Key talking about how they could adopt Old Memorial Park and contribute toward park improvements unrelated to skateboarding.”

Of the skate park, George McAneny ’16 said, “It’ll be a good place where the community of skaters can connect and learn together. I’m pumped to shred the new terrain.”

The skatepark is especially exciting given that skateboarding’s camaraderie is perhaps its defining feature. Nelson said, “Skateboarding is more of a community than an activity, and that is most present at the skatepark. I can’t wait to see the youth of Northfield have that, because they deserve it.”

So buy those Vans you’ve been hesitating on and start practicing your ollies. In Northfield, skateboarding is back.

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