St. Stephen – Work on the Kiwanis Centennial Skateboard Park is expected to begin the middle of June and the park is expected to open this summer.
And thanks to some fundraising efforts, like a raffle on several skateboards, and the success of the recent Kiwanis Trade Show in St. Stephen, the funding goal of $120,000 has been reached.
Project coordinator Ken McLaughlin is also the treasurer of the Kiwanis Club of St. Stephen which is spearheading the project.
He said the recent trade show held at the Garcelon Civic Center netted the club a profit of $11,000. Those monies, combined with fund raising events and several “generous donations” put the skateboard park project over the top.
The skate park will be built in a portion of the parking lot of the Border Area Community Arena on King Street.
McLaughlin said the recent wet weather has delayed the plans for the preparation work. He said before the park can be set up, the town will pave the area with a special finish coat, a fence will be erected and then the equipment which has arrived and is in storage, will be placed.
Before the trade show and the sale of tickets on skateboards, the club had raised $100,000 for the skatepark. The provincial government contributed $20,000 and the federal government has funded the project to the tune of $42,000.
“All the rest was raised through different Kiwanis events. Any time you see us out raising money this is what we’re doing,” said McLaughlin. “And all our monies go right back into the community.”
Winners of the skateboard raffle who will receive skateboards marked with the Kiwanis crest were John Ames, Greg Nordstrom and Jackie Mohan all of St. Stephen. Mohan wasn’t available for a photo, but while McLaughlin, Ames and Nordstrom were waiting for the media to take their picture, Shane Jeffrey, 18, stopped by to voice his support of the skate park.
Jeffrey recently moved back to St. Stephen from Saint John.
“It’s good to have something here,” he said, adding he will definitely be using the skate park at the arena. Jeffrey noted when he was younger, living in St. Stephen, he used to travel to Calais to skate and used the skate board park beneath the Harbour Bridge in Saint John when he lived there.
McLaughlin welcomed the youth with a smile and a handshake and proposed he think of some skateboard events the park could host.
McLaughlin said it is important to involve the youth of the community.
“You never know the difference you make (in their lives) until later on.”
He said the Kiwanis Club received a lot of help from the members of the K Club at St. Stephen High School.
“They worked really hard helping us focus on what should be in the park and what effect it would have. You don’t really know unless you’re a skateboarder yourself – and we’re not – they are. They point us in the right direction.
“If there is anything we’re sorry for it’s that we couldn’t have made this happen sooner,” said McLaughlin. He said the club ended up with a bigger project than had originally been proposed “and that was due to the support of the federal and provincial governments.”
“I commend them,” he stated.
McLaughlin was asked to compare the St. Stephen skateboard park to those in Calais and Saint Andrews.
“This is as good a skateboard park you’re going to see short of going to something that’s in a large city,” stated McLaughlin.
“The kids are really going to enjoy this. Everyone that’s looked at the items that are going to be in there and how it’s laid out, they’ve been really excited.
“They can’t wait to roll.”