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Local Skate Park Receives Support to Stay Open

Summit named in petition to save Chatham Township skate park.

In the weeks since Mary Rohe and Mimi Mehta appeared before the Chatham Township Committee and asked them to rebuild the Chatham Skate Park, the two have been hard at work collecting signatures for a petition.

Mehta and Rohe discovered the skate park was closed when, on separate occasions, they went to drop their children off at the park as summer ended. Signs on the park gate said the park was closed, but gave no explanation why.

The two later learned that the township's insurance provider advised the closing when structural damage was discovered in the park. The half-pipe shows visible cracks and other signs of wear and tear.

Department of Public Works Director John Pacelli said the skate park will need a new deck, fasteners and intense renovations, which could cost up to $100,000, or half the park's original 2003 construction cost.

Pacelli told the committee he believed attendance at the park had declined in recent years, but Mehta and her son Michael, a sophomore at Chatham High School, said they believe use has increased, especially among Chatham residents.

Rohe and Mehta released a statement asking anyone willing to help save the skate park to sign their online petition. As of Sunday, Oct. 14, there were 43 signatures on the petition.

Signators gave their hometowns as Roseland, Summit, South Orange, Jersey City, Livingston, Bayonne, Short Hills, Madison, Chatham Borough and Chatham Township.

"We believe that there may still be local interest in keeping this facility open.  Chatham Skate Park is unique in that it serves a non-traditional recreational need of our children and provides a safe, friendly environment to practice skateboarding and in-line skating," Mehta and Rohe wrote in a press statement.

The original cost of the park was about $200,000, which was raised partly through donations and partly from the township. "Funding from local citizens, businesses and organizations will be essential to this effort," Rohe and Mehta's press statement read in part.

The next-nearest skate parks are Livingston’s park and GardenSK8 Indoor Skatepark in Pine Brook, both about a half-hour drive from Mehta's home in Chatham Township.

Rohe and Mehta have also set up an email account where they are willing to answer questions and welcome other volunteers. Anyone interested can contact them at savechathamskatepark@yahoo.com.

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