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Liberty skate park supported by county; Sullivan legislature approves $36,000

By Fritz Mayer
July 23, 2014

MONTICELLO, NY — It was a vote that would probably not have happened a year or two ago, but with the economy slowly improving, Sullivan legislators voted five to four to give $36,000 to the Liberty Community Development Corporation (CDC) to help complete the funding for the construction of a skate park that has been on the drawing board for 10 years.

Heinrich Strauch, the executive director of the CDC, gave a presentation at the county board meeting on July 17, and said the group working on the park, which includes town officials, village officials and numerous volunteers, had over the past decade raised about $120,000 for the effort and collected another $45,000 in donated labor, services and material.

Strauch said the remaining work is specialty concrete work that must be done by an experienced skate park builder. The park itself was designed by Pillar Design Studios, which has an international reputation for building skate parks and recently completed one in Stockholm, Sweden.

Strauch said, “Our goal from the outset was to deliver a destination park, one that attracts skaters of all skill levels from within the community as well as the county and beyond.”

Charlie Barbuti, supervisor of the Town of Liberty, said he was aware that if the county gave money to the project it would be setting a precedent, but this would be a good precedent to set. It’s a project supported by the town and village, and New York State has supported it. He said the project would draw visitors to the area.

Strauch said the closest existing skate park is in the Town of Saugerties.

Legislator Kitty Vetter was opposed to granting the funding because it would not be a county park. She said many towns were improving their parks. But with the recent storm problems faced by some towns, she could not agree to granting $36,000 for a skate part to Liberty.

Legislator Cindy Gieger, who represents part of the Town of Liberty, said, “To be honest with you, I’ve seen so much given away in tax abatements here and there and everywhere, I am more than willing to support the efforts over the past decade to bring something positive not just to the Town of Liberty but to the county as a whole.”

Legislator Jonathan Rouis said “For the last several years, as we worked our way through the recession, we haven’t had the ability or made the offer to constituent municipalities to fund worthwhile projects like this.” He said if the legislature is going to move in the direction of funding some projects, the legislators should set up a competitive process through which to do that. He said he supported the project.