Amidst criticism for their proposal to substitute the skate park with tennis courts, Bolton Valley postpones the shutdown.

SportsAdmin

Amidst criticism for their proposal to substitute the skate park with tennis courts, Bolton Valley postpones the shutdown.

Amidst criticism

“I believe it will have a significant impact on many families’ lives this winter,” expressed Miri Mahar, a resident of Bolton who, along with her daughter Scout, has been using the privately owned skate park for nearly five years since its inception.

For years, Bolton has been home to one of just two indoor skate and bike parks in Vermont. However, when Bolton Valley Resort recently unveiled its plan to close the park and replace it with tennis and pickleball courts, the response was swift and impassioned.

“We knew that there were going to be some disappointed individuals,” acknowledged Lindsay DesLauriers, the resort’s president and CEO. “But we did not anticipate the intensity of the reaction.”

In response to the fallout, resort officials have decided to postpone the park’s closure, which was originally scheduled for October 1.

DesLauriers admitted, “I acknowledge that we did not handle the engagement process well, starting with our staff, regarding this decision. We are committed to rectifying that.” She mentioned plans to meet with staff and engage with the broader community, adding, “Right now, we are suspending a firm closing date. We want to navigate through these discussions before establishing a specific date.”

News of the closure had already spread before the resort’s official announcement on September 19, with a petition created three days prior gathering nearly 1,600 signatures by Thursday evening.

The petition argues, “The skatepark is a vital place for skateboarders in Vermont, as it is the only indoor skatepark besides Talent, and we believe it serves a much larger audience than tennis courts.”

Comments have since flooded the resort’s social media channels.

Miri Mahar, a Bolton resident, shared her concerns, stating, “I think it will drastically affect many families’ lives this winter. It’s a popular spot for families to bring their children, especially when the ski lifts are closed. It’s also frequented by families visiting during winter vacations or February breaks.”

Scout recently celebrated her fourth birthday at the skate park.

“It’s where she learned to ride her bike and started to learn skateboarding,” Mahar added, noting that she accompanies her daughter on rollerblades. She also mentioned her initial concerns about her young daughter playing among adult skateboarders and BMX bikers, but they always look out for her and even guide her.

“It’s an amazing community. They’re so kind to her and teach her how to do things,” she said.

Built over two former tennis courts, the skate park is situated in the sports center at Bolton Valley Resort and is accessible to anyone with a season or day pass. According to the resort’s website, a day pass costs $30 for adults and $20 for children aged 6-15.

photo credit by (vtdigger.org)

Some people on social media have argued that replacing a skate park with tennis and the fast-growing pickleball amounts to socioeconomic discrimination. DesLauriers disagreed and explained that Bolton Valley was making a decision based on what makes the most economic sense for the resort.

She noted the challenge of being a small business in a competitive industry and the need to balance viability with being a valuable community resource. However, she emphasized the resort’s appreciation for the skateboarding community at Bolton Valley.

Nick Mallow, who manages Bolton Valley’s sports center, shared that he and his friends grew up skateboarding in the area. They were excited when Talent Skatepark opened in Burlington, and even more so when the park’s bowl, a central feature with sloped edges, was relocated to Bolton in 2018.

Although discussions about repurposing the skate park for tennis courts have been ongoing for several years, Mallow expressed his surprise as an employee upon hearing about the recent closure announcement.

“I think that increasing marketing efforts and hosting more skate events could help generate more revenue for the skate park,” he suggested, adding that he is willing to assist with the transition.

Colin Brown, a former employee at the Bolton skate park and a skateboarder for over 30 years, designed some of the park’s features. He highlighted the facility’s significant use, especially during the winter, when it can attract between 10 and 30 skateboarders on a busy weekend.

photo credit by (vtdigger.org)

“There are plenty of places to play tennis and pickleball in the area. But when it comes to skateboarding, there’s only one place during the winter,” Brown emphasized. “Having this resource was crucial for the skate community.”

DesLauriers mentioned that the resort is exploring options to relocate some of the park’s features, particularly the iconic bowl, which is considered a part of Vermont’s skateboarding history.

“We are a complex business with many considerations, and we make decisions about directions every day. Different decisions require varying levels of engagement,” she stated. “We clearly misjudged this one.”

Reference:

Leave a Comment