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EDISON, NJ–On March 28, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held to celebrate the opening of the newly-renovated Edison Skate Park to celebrate the completion of its construction.
Located near the Township’s Municipal Complex, the old skate park had been worn down by many years of use, and Edison officials decided that it was time to tear it down and replace it.
Although the new park has been open to the public for some time now, the opening ceremony provided an opportunity for professional skateboarder and Edison native Mike Vallely to return to New Jersey and do the honors of officially re-dedicating the park.
At the event, there were contests, free food, and music, but the main attraction of the day was Vallely, who was swamped by fans of all ages asking for autographs and photos for most of the day.
Vallely is a professional skateboarder as well as an actor, stuntman, and the current lead singer of the band Black Flag.
“I grew up in an area where there were no skate parks, so myself and my peers fought really hard for a place to skate, to be recognized and appreciated,” Vallely told Edison Now. “To see that happen and exist in my hometown is really meaningful to me.”
The original skate park was built 10 years ago to give skateboarders in Edison a safe place to do what they love. Prior to its construction, skateboarders had been using illegal homemade ramps and skating in dangerous places such as busy roads.
Since the skate park’s completion, it has been the most popular public park in Edison, with an average of around 10,000 visitors a year and often attracts people from neighboring communities.
According to the Edison Township Resource Development officer Chris Mazauskas, during the construction of the new skate park, there were kids at the site volunteering to help with construction every day until it was completed. For insurance reasons, they were not allowed to help.
Mazauskas estimates the total cost of tearing down the old park and building the new one to be around $350,000 dollars, with $150,000 coming from the county’s open space trust fund and the rest from the town’s capital budget.
Everyone at the event seemed to view the opening of the new skate park as a victory, especially Vallely.
“Skaters are always battling for every inch of asphalt, every bit of respect, and as frustrating and difficult as that can be, it’s also rewarding to be engaged in that kind of battle,” Vallely said.
Over the last few years, New Jersey has seen a trend of skate parks closing, but Edison has doubled down on having a skate park in town.
While Edison officials are excited for the new park to be installed, they have a few concerns about it.
The old skate park had problems with people writing vulgar graffiti and continually throwing trash on the ground.
“We want the park to be a place where people of varied ages and gender can come and enjoy the park without incident or being exposed to visual graphics that are unacceptable,” said Edison Township Director of Public Works Jeff Roderman.