BERKELEY – Locals, pros, and local pros swarmed the new skate park at its grand opening.
The park is taking the place of a previous one that had fallen into disrepair and had to be replaced. It is located at Veterans Park, on Forest Hills Parkway, just east of the Central Regional schools.
The prior skate park was made of wood laminate, said Councilman Angelo Guadagno, who oversaw some of the design. The new park is galvanized hot-dipped steel. The goal was to make it open to a number of different sports: skateboarding, BMX riding, scooters, and roller skaters. The facility could host events and competitions.
“We wanted to attract a crowd. The bigger the crowd, the less trouble you have. There’s safety in numbers,” he said.
While the old park was past its prime, its importance could not be understated, Guadagno said. It gives kids something to do. He was told by one of the local pros “This park saved my life.”
The day opened with some professional skaters, BMX riders, and scooter riders doing some demonstrations. Some were local and some had to travel: JonMarco Gaydos, Garrett Byrnes, Don Simoncini, Mike Shimak, Mike Fede, Mike Manfre, Anthony Cataldo, Nick Akerman, Jeff Winiavski, Kiara Meade, Tyler Nelson, and Scott Anderson were invited to attend. Another local celeb, motivational speaker Nick Santonastasso, was invited but couldn’t attend.
People were encouraged to stick around after the park opening to meet the celebs and get free autographs and pictures.
A few of the local ones had been invited into the design process, Guadagno said. He wanted an expert view on how to make the best park possible.
JonMarco Gaydos, 14, of Brick, is ranked first in the country in his chosen sport, riding scooters. He travels all over the world to compete.
“I love it. I really do. The skate park in Lakewood is one of the best, and now I come here every other day,” he said, referencing the Incline Club.
When he was asked for his input in making the park, he suggested creating a mix of small and larger ramps to attract all ability levels.
“At first, the ramps were really small. If you want to go professional, obviously you have to have bigger ramps,” he said.
Another local pro, Tyler Akerman, agreed. The original plans called for a less challenging course that wouldn’t attract serious competitors. The way it is now, people will travel just to enjoy it.
“This is the best outdoor skate park in New Jersey,” said Akerman, who was also comparing it favorably against other parks in other states.
The park is designed to have a beginners course on one side, intermediate in the middle, and advanced on the other side.
It was built by the American Ramp Company, and has a 20-year warranty. The park’s cost, $266,500, was found in unexpended funds in old bond ordinances, officials said. What this means is that when the town wants to do a project, they borrow money in the form of a bond. Sometimes, projects are finished for less than it was expected to cost. It was this leftover money that was used.
A few security cameras are aimed at the park, with the footage being beamed to the police department, in an effort to protect the township’s investment. New lighting was also installed at the park, although the hours of operation are from dawn to dusk.
For the purposes of the skaters, the park is complete. For the purposes of the town, there are still a few more improvements to make. Guadagno said there will be an 8-foot fence and shrubs installed between the skate park and the playground to serve as a sound barrier. There will be more signage as well.
The opening of the park shared some venue space with a car show benefiting the township’s D.A.R.E. program.