New Brunswick Moves Forward With Plan for First Skate Park

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Plans for a makeover of Recreation Park are moving forward, with a target to open a new skate park and community garden by the end of this year.

Recreation Park is located on Pine Street in New Brunswick right where Sanford Street becomes Georges Road.  The neighborhood surrounding the park has been a focus of a community-based partnership between the city and the Civic League of Greater New Brunswick.

The park already has a lot to offer, but the City has decided to make improvements to increase its use.  The remodeling will upgrade existing portions of the park, including the picnic area and basketball courts.

New Brunswick's Superintendent of Recreation Michael Blackwell said, "The park will have a small and large multipurpose field for football, soccer, or any other sport. This park will get a new skate park and many other amenities as well. Sandford Street will open up access to Reservoir Avenue."

Blackwell hopes the skate park and community garden will be attractions that will encourage lots of people to express themselves freely in a New Brunswick public space.

An estimated $2.3 million dollars will be used for an update of the beloved yet faded community park, according to Blackwell.

As for the project's timeframe, the New Brunswick City Government’s Facebook page wrote the upgrades will be made "after the final design documents are completed," adding that the City will be awarding construction contracts to the winners of a public bidding process.

Blackwell told NewBrunswickToday.com that the new skate park will not be supervised and instead employ a policy of "skate at your own risk" to limit litigation.

Blackwell said that, in unsupervised skate parks, "there are less lawsuits for injuries."

Skaters are excited for the introduction of the skate park, a first for New Brunswick.

However, some residents questioned how popular that portion of the park might be.  A Pine Street resident who goes by the name Smudge asked, "Who’s gonna use it?  Nobody skates around here.  I’ve been here 48 years, and I ain’t seen one skateboard or a skate yet.  I’ve seen them skating at the Walgreen's parking lot – but that’s twenty minutes away."

Nevertheless, Smudge agreed that the park could use a makeover.

"Everyone’s been getting one except for us. I don’t know if it’s necessarily a good thing, but it’s something different."

But others feel the park will provide an opportunity for Rutgers students and New Brunswick locals to share in fun activities together.

Mike Mishkovsky, a skateboarder who has pushed for the city to install a skate park said, "It’s important for kids to have a source of fun that is their own, and shared with each other. It’s a great alternative to drugs and violence and TV."

Even though Mishkovsky moved out of the city and is now a father, he plans on returning to use the park.

"I plan on bringin’ my son to skate the park with me.  And I hope to introduce him to some New Brunswick locals that way!"

  


  The plan also calls for extending Sandford Street to connect with Reservior Avenue.

Sara Yildirm, a Landscape Architecture student at Rutgers University told NewBrunswickToday.com the new extension of Sandford Street would connect the Reservoir Avenue neighborhood.

"It really completes the space by providing a complete perimeter around a central location."

But Smudge said that increased traffic is a big concern for the neighborhood.

"With the new park, it’s gonna be congested.  A lot of old folks live around here, and we already get a lot of noise from football practice Monday through Thursday," he said.

Yildirim also noted that parking is "one of the most important issues with public spaces."

"By providing parking on both sides of the park, this place has made both access to and out of the park more convenient for drivers."

 

Charlie is a community organizer, a Rutgers journalism graduate, and a 2018 independent candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick.

He can be reached at (732) 993-9697 or [email protected]