Three years ago, a group of residents who called themselves “SK8 Croton” successfully lobbied the Village of Croton-on-Hudson Board of Trustees to unanimously pass a resolution on May 20, 2002 to move forward with construction of a new skate park to be located at Municipal Place.
Members of the board, including Trustees Georgianna Grant, Deb McCarthy, Dr. Gregory Schmidt, Leo Wiegman and presiding Mayor Robert Elliott, authorized expenditures of nearly $150,000 to build the skate park. An investment of $62,502 went for the skate ramps alone, while additional costs for paving the site, fencing the area and acquisition of a mobile trailer with a bathroom made up the balance.
Despite opposition from some residents over such a large investment and the location of the park, at a Village Board meeting held on August 5, 2002, Trustee Deb McCarthy expressed, in support of her vote affirming of the resolution, that “it is more than 20-30 kids who wanted it (skate park); the Village wants to meet the needs of all segments of the community”.
While attending a Village Board meeting held September 9, 2002, Croton resident Robert Wintermeier, stated “I feel that the skate park is an excellent facility – well built, well used. It attracts people to Croton. I commend the Board on this facility.”
What happened? Or what didn’t happen?
On February 15, 2005, then Trustee Dr. Gregory Schmidt reported during a Village Board meeting that the Village will be receiving a letter from the Recreation Advisory Board with a recommendation to close the Skate Board Park saying; “they feel that it does not meet the recreation rules and regulations and is losing money; any function that serves just a small part of the community should pay for itself, such as the boat basin which should not be subsidized.”
After three years of seasonal operation, only in 2005, did the Village of Croton-on-Hudson Department of Recreation, headed by Sue Menz, and the Recreation Advisory Board with its liaison now-Mayor Dr. Gregory Schmidt, plan and execute the park’s only two promotional events.
The first was a well-attended skateboard contest sponsored in part by 2nd Nature Skateboard Shop of Sleepy Hollow (see “Croton’s Back-flip Boy Skates to Victory”) held on June 18, 2005.
The second was formulated at a Village Board of Trustees work session held on May 9, 2005, in response to a suggestion from Trustee Charlie Kane to open the park for free to all Village residents. Trustee Jim Steinberg who was not in support of Kane’s proposition, countered with a comprise, which was passed by the board’s majority, that called for a two-week period of free admission at the skate park.
However, neither program helped to reverse the trend in declining attendance and revenue.
And despite being outlined in the Village Master Plan, as follows; “…Additional programs that focus on self-defense, gymnastics or strength training would expand the youth audience. One-time, seasonal clinics for tennis, cross-country skiing, golf, skateboarding and in-line skating could be created…”, no such instructional activities took place, ever.
As reported in The Journal News on December 28, 2005 in a piece called “Croton Skate Park to Close” by Croton resident and reporter Robert Marchant, the Croton skate park is set to close and will not reopen in 2006 with Mayor Dr. Gregory Schmidt being quoted as saying, “I’m pretty sure that’s what we’re heading toward”.
Attendance has slipped for two straight years since opening, resulting in a deficit of $7,000 for this calendar year.
At a Village Board of Trustees Work Session held on December 12, 2005, Mayor Dr. Gregory Schmidt, who originally voted in favor of the resolution and as an early backer, contributed money for the seating area to the Village, on behalf of his Chiropractic business, announced tentative plans with the Town of Cortlandt, to move the ramps from Municipal Place to a new site near the Cortlandt train station.
No financial terms or costs to acquire, dismantle and transport the equipment to the proposed site were discussed at the work session. An official resolution from the board is expected to be forthcoming.