(photo: Bob McCormick)
NEWBURGH – Dozens gathered Monday to celebrate the opening of a skatepark at Delano-Hitch Park in the City of Newburgh that was eight years in the making.
Construction on the project began last September, and Community Development Director Ellen Fillo said it was a labor of love that will provide the city’s skateboarders a safer environment to show off their skills.
“It’s been a lot of false starts and stops and heartbreak along the way, but we’re finally here,” Fillo said.
Roxie Royal, a public advocate in Newburgh who has been lobbying city
council to get the park up and running since it was proposed eight years
ago, was overcome with emotion over the opening and the potential impact
it will have on the city’s youth. She said the park is but one component
of what is needed for the younger generation in the city.
“Now that we have the skatepark and it happened, we have to venture on to something else that will capture the affections of our youth; something they will grab onto,” Royal said. “We can’t plan for the older people anymore. We have to plan for the youth. We talk about what they’re doing in the streets, and we’re giving them something to do. All work and no play make Jack a dull boy, and our Jacks and Jims have nothing to do but get on the streets and do crazy things. I thank God that this has happened for our young people.”
Newly appointed Mayor Torrance Harvey paid respect to his beloved predecessor, Judy Kennedy, while sharing his hope for the youth in the city.
“They spoke up and spoke out, and this is an example of the true spirit of leadership on young people’s part,” Harvey said. “People used to say that our young people don’t have anything to do in the City of Newburgh, and that’s changing.”
Skateboarder and artist Erica Enriquez introduced a prototype for a new addition to the park, a special ramp modeled after a donut to signify the struggle it took to get this skatepark in place. The park was at one point set to be located behind a Dunkin Donuts, an idea that was rejected.
“The goal behind my sculpture is to create a democratic community space designed for the encouragement of inclusion, diversity and self-confidence,” said Enriquez. “What I do as an artist is to create works that bring together all types of communities. I hope to see in the future not just skaters in this space but all types of people.”