At a Warren County Board of Supervisors’ meeting last August, county Youth Bureau Director Margaret Sing Smith introduced three youths involved in advocating the construction of the Lake George Skate Park (left to right): Frankie Cavone and Doug Quimby of Lake George and Nick Farry of Guilderland.
Seven years ago, a rebellious-looking boy and several of his friends were apprehended by the local police for skateboarding down the village sidewalks. Detained in the local holding cell, Lake George middle-schooler Frankie Cavone waited for his mom Tina Cacckello, a local hair salon owner, to bail him out.
Their skateboards had been confiscated and sent to the mayor’s office, so they’d have to make a convincing plea to get them back, Cacckello recalled this week.
“We were in Mayor Blais’ office and Frankie and his friends were scared out of their minds,” she recalled May 7. “We all told the mayor ‘Lake George needs a skateboard park where kids can have fun and not get in trouble,’ and he said, ‘You’re right we do,’ and before long, a campaign to build one was underway.”
This dream of 10 or so local skateboarders for a local skate park — following years of planning and fundraising by several dozen local teenagers, their parents, community leaders and youth advocates — is now destined to become a reality.
The Lake George Skate Park is likely to be constructed in August, Lake George Mayor Robert Blais announced this week.
When completed, the park is likely to host professional and amateur skateboarding competitions as well as be open to the public for recreational use.
This latest development is due to reaching the goal of raising $60,000 — half of the project’s initial construction cost, Blais said.
The skatepark is to be located on West Brook Road as a featured attraction in the Charles R. Wood Park at the south end of Lake George Village.
While the idea was advocated in fall 2008 by local teenagers in the Act for Youth group, Blais as well as community activist Patricia Dow, leader of Communities Come Together, embraced the skatepark effort and promoted its development to accommodate local skateboarders as well as provide an additional tourist attraction.
Dow, Blais many local teens and adults helped organize a campaign to raise money to build the park, and the Charles Wood Park was chosen as its site. The $60,000 raised leverages a state matching grant of $60,000.
For about five years, fundraisers have included coin drops, spaghetti dinners, garage sales, a skateboard art show and special events, yielding more than $15,000. The Walter Marinelli Memorial Golf Tournament, raised over $15,500. Village officials pledged $20,000 and the Town of Lake George contributed $10,000.
Frankie Cavone, now college-age, took a short break Tuesday from his job at local eatery Pizza Jerks to reflect on what the skate park project meant to him now. Over the last seven years, he’s been to local court four times for the breaking the local law prohibiting skateboarding on public property.
“This is a dream come true, and it’s a good lesson for us, that if we stick together, work hard and never give up, we can accomplish our goals,” he said. “Patricia Dow dedicated so much of her time, going to meeting after meeting with local kids and giving them a voice — it’s unbelievable what she did, and Mayor Blais too — everyone put in their share.”
The skate park is to be built in two phases. The initial stage consists of urban street features with hips, ledges and railings, as designed by local young skateboarders jointly with professional skatepark designers: Action Sports Design Team of Boston as well as Elan Planning of Saratoga Springs.
Cavone said he and many other young adults — and local teenaged skateboarders following his peers — were happy they will soon have a world-class venue to conduct their chosen sport.
“We didn’t settle for something cheesy,” Cavone said. “I’ve been to skateparks all over the U.S. from Massachusetts to California, and I know our local park is going to be the best skate park in the Northeast.”
Mayor Blais praised the local youth and their parents for their commitment and persistence, Patricia Dow for her dedication, and all those who donated time and money toward the skatepark project.
“What a wonderfully rewarding experience to see this park finally reach its goal,” Mayor Blais said in a prepared statement.
Patricia Dow also said she was pleased the skatepark would soon be a reality for the not only the local skaters, but for visitors.
“It’s really exciting to know this skatepark will be developed this fall,” she said, “particularly for the youth now graduated from high school, seeing the culmination of their years of involvement in this project.”
“Lake George is a great community, and without the support of everyone, this wouldn’t have happened,” he said. “This feels really good, and it’s awesome for the kids.”
Donations are still being accepted at the Lake George Village Hall for the second phase that will include two skate bowls and a donors’ paver entryway. For details on donating, call 668-5771.