New facility opens after four years of pressure by local kids
By Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier May 18.)
Teen Shaquille Williams has been waiting four years to hear the sound of boards and bikes rolling through Lawrence Heights.
Williams and his friend Joshua Orticello pushed for a local skateboard park for nearly four years and it opened May 1 at Lawrence Ave. West and Varna Drive.
The pair, both 14, solicited a campaign promise from councillor Howard Moscoe in 2006 and went door to door getting over 200 signatures in favour of the skateboard park.
The persistent youth followed up with Moscoe and city officials in order to ensure their dream came true. With Mayor David Miller in attendance, the skateboard park officially launched on May 1.
“After the (long) time period, I didn’t think it would happen. You have to have patience,” says Williams standing at the new facility, skateboard in hand.
On May 18, over two weeks after the mayor helped officially open the park, Williams and four friends have come to the skateboard park to try their best moves. The facility has a number of components, including a half and a quarter pipe, box, rail and bench for performing tricks.
“I come three or four times a week,” said 15-year-old David Ayres. “It’s open to anything with wheels.”
Ayres said he appreciates that beginners and to more advanced skateboarders and cyclists can hone their skills and perform tricks at the park.
Councillor Moscoe said he’s happy he could fulfill his ’06 campaign promise to the local youth.
“It really says this neighbourhood needs facilities,” says Moscoe. “This is a portable skateboard park so we can relocate it during the Lawrence Heights revitalization.”
The skateboard park is currently located on Bathurst Heights SS property through an agreement with the school board.
It cost about $75,000 to build, with the funding coming from the city’s Partnership Opportunity Legacy for recreation facilities in priority neighbourshoods.
According to Moscoe, an additional $35,000 from the private sector has been secured for more park equipment, expected to be installed this summer.
In the meantime, Moscoe’s got some advice for local youth:
“Bring your skateboard and enjoy it.”
Does the city need more skateboard parks?