Young man addresses town officials on behalf of Jackson skateboarders

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JACKSON – A local skateboarding enthusiast has spoken up about Jackson’s skate park and his remarks drew praise from municipal officials.

During the public comment portion of the April 23 Township Council meeting, Connor Fletcher, 22, addressed the condition of the skate park, He said this is an issue that is very important to him and his community of people who skateboard.

The Jackson skate park is in the Jackson Justice Complex off West Veterans Highway.

“I am about to speak on a community that does not really have a voice or anyone who stands up for it,” he said. “I want to talk about the current condition of the township skate park.

“I have already taken into account that this is not a primary concern or an urgent matter to be discussed, but it is something I am passionate about, as well as dozens of great people out there at that very same park,” Fletcher said.

He said people who use the skate park often talk about the fact that the facility has never been completed.

“Do not get me wrong, we are very grateful for what we have, especially me. That particular park gave me a sense of community when I was in an aggravated state of depression right out of the hospital. Skaters tend to identify with a sense of isolation or as ‘misfits’ and we also share the habit of never wanting to give up,” Fletcher said.

He told council members it took him a long time to open up to the other skaters because he felt like they “already had a community and longtime friendships.”

“But the minute I opened up, they took me in and I continued to make great friends and have great times and I am grateful, but I have decided it is my turn to give back.

“What I am here to point out is that the raised slabs of concrete consisting of ramps, rails and other obstacles count for hardly 50% of the allotted space to be used for building, if even that much,” Fletcher said.

He said the unused space at the skate park “hardly serves a function, as the terrain is empty and very coarse and rocky, which can be very dangerous for riders.”

Fletcher said he does not believe much thought was put into the skate park, which lacks a portable toilet.

“If we have to relieve ourselves we have to cross the entire complex to get to one, which is not exactly a huge deal because we have wheels, but it just puts into perspective how little thought is put into us as human beings,” he said.

“I am not going to flat out ask for a large sum of money … to build a whole park up, as it does not sound realistic, but I do want to ask what it might take to make something happen; whether it is resurfacing the blacktop with a slab of cement and getting a (portable toilet) and maybe even a light or two,” Fletcher said.

He said he would be willing to donate $1,000 to the effort if he knew he was not wasting his time.

“I want to expand the community that helped save my life and give more people the opportunity to fall in love with skateboarding the way I did,” Fletcher said.

Council President Rob Nixon complimented Fletcher and said his comments were “really well done and really well said.”

Councilman Andrew Kern told Fletcher he had excellent timing. That evening, council members introduced an ordinance which will, if adopted, establish a Jackson Township Parks and Playgrounds Fund.

“You could give Jackson a donation and be able to sponsor the skate park, the hockey rink there (at the Justice Complex), all the different playgrounds around town, and all the ballfields, play areas and recreation facilities,” Kern said.

He said the ordinance provides that every dollar of donations that are made can only go toward equipment and resurfacing.

“I went with (an employee) from the Department of Public Works to every single area and we focused on the skate park for about 20 minutes and discussed where to put a grinding rail and (implementing) other suggestions they had,” Kern said.

Kern asked Fletcher to provide his contact information so he could work with municipal officials to improve the skate park.

“This is the start of a very good discussion,” Nixon said.