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Potsdam skatepark project awaits decision on remaining money from DRI | arts and entertainment

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On Monday night, POTSDAM Village Trustees heard suggestions from Saranac Lake Village Trustees on how to operate a proposed skatepark.

Potsdams’ proposal for a skate area on Fall Island on the site of the existing park is under consideration to be funded with unused village money from the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative award.

The village is working with the St. Lawrence County Arts Council on the project, which is still in the early stages. The park would be behind the Fall Island parking lot. An SLC arts committee works with Canton native Matthew L. Mazzotta, who designs public recreational spaces, such as skate parks. SLC Arts executive director Maggie M. McKenna, who is also on the skatepark committee, said she is waiting to hear if the state will provide unused funds from two DRI projects that have been canceled. They are asking the state for $450,000 for the new park.

At this point, were waiting for the state to return to the village. The village has put together the allocation it wants for the skatepark from the rest of the DRI funds, she said.

To cover the remaining $150,000 of the $600,000 prize, McKenna said the committee plans to launch a public fundraiser and reach out to local institutions and apply for major grants to support the rest.

She said that once the funding is in place, Mr. Mazzotta will be hosting salon meetings for the public to give feedback on what the skatepark should look like.

He literally puts sofas in the space for people to come and sit and chat, Ms. McKenna said, adding that it’s a big part of Mr. Mazzotta’s design process.

At the Potsdam village board meeting Monday night, Saranac Lake trustee Richard Shapiro talked about a skatepark his village opened about seven years ago. He said it was a huge hit and the skaters who used it took good care of it.

It was wonderful. It is essentially the most used park in the village, he said, adding that there have been no complaints or maintenance issues.

He said that the site proposed by Potsdams is a good choice.

Mr. Shapiro suggested that the finished skatepark should be as open as possible.

Don’t lock him up. Does not require supervision. Don’t lock it, he said, without suggesting that there shouldn’t be any sensible rules for using the park.

He said skateboarders don’t usually play team sports, but find themselves in cooperative competitions trying to outdo each other and also sharing tips and advice.

They all want to improve, they are working on it, he said.

Skateboarding events at Saranac Lake Park tend to draw large crowds, Shapiro said, and attract people of all ages from outside the area. They come from as far away as Syracuse, Rochester, Boston, New York and Buffalo.

People come from all over for it, he says.

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