Lawmakers Mull Skate Park in Speonk - 27 East

Lawmakers Mull Skate Park in Speonk

icon 2 Photos
Shawn Mett, one of the organizers lobbying for a skate park on town land in Speonk.     KITTY MERRILL

Shawn Mett, one of the organizers lobbying for a skate park on town land in Speonk. KITTY MERRILL

Organizers hoping for a skate park at town property in Speonk: (from left) Justin DeMarco, J.J. Veronis, Shawn Mett, and Chris Clapp      KITTY MERRILL

Organizers hoping for a skate park at town property in Speonk: (from left) Justin DeMarco, J.J. Veronis, Shawn Mett, and Chris Clapp KITTY MERRILL

Kitty Merrill on Sep 21, 2022

Waxing nostalgic, Chris Clapp recalled getting together with friends when he was younger and building skateboard ramps. They’d lean them up against the neighborhood handball court. Skateboarding up the ramp was “real rad,” he joked.

JJ Veronis recalled adventures dating back to the 1970s. He and his friends found a woman who’d let them skateboard in her swimming pool if they’d weed her yard.

“Everybody weeded,” he told the Southampton Town Board during its September 15 work session.

Accompanied by Westhampton residents Justin DeMarco and Shawn Mett, the duo visited the elected officials to gauge their interest and solicit support for the creation of an “action park” on property in Speonk.

Organizers are trying to refrain from using the term skate park, Clapp explained. “Action park” may be a better moniker, since the group envisions an inclusive space that allows for kids on roller blades, scooters, balance bikes — a whole spectrum of users.

The Town Board recently voted to appropriate money to get a design for athletic fields on town acreage off Old Country Road in Speonk.

“We’re envisioning some ball fields, a soccer field , perhaps a BMX pump track, lighting, rest room,” Town Parks Director Kristen Doulos said. The idea for the athletic fields arose because, she said, “We’re outgrowing our existing facilities.”

The town does have skate parks in Hampton Bays and North Sea, but Supervisor Jay Schneiderman related that when he attend the ribbon cutting of the revitalized skate park in Montauk, people asked him when his town would construct its own world class facility.

Modern skate parks are very different from what the town currently has in Hampton Bays and North Sea, Schneiderman pointed out. “The Ramps are like sculptures. They’re beautiful, they flow,” he said.

Marveling at the crowds that attended the opening, he added, “A forgotten sector of the community now has a place.”

Through volunteer work with village committees in Westhampton Beach, Clapp took note of complaints about kids biking on Main Street and the lack of healthy activities for bored kids.

“Not everybody is a lacrosse, soccer, football person,” Clapp pointed out. Approaching village officials, the group found initial support for space near the Village Marina, but it was spoken for by other competing uses.

Mett and DeMarco thought of town-owned property bordering Mill Road near the elementary school. Known as the Bauer property after its former owner, the land would be a walkable spot for kids coming from downtown and school. But Councilman John Bouvier and Town Clerk Sundy Schermeyer recalled prior attempts to create recreational uses on the parcel were met with pushback from the neighboring residents.

Councilwoman Cynthia McNamara prefers the location of the Bauer property and wants to continue to explore an action park at that location. A community-oriented facility should be located in the community, she said.

“We’ve already tried to climb that slope and didn’t get too far,” Bouvier said. McNamara agreed to spearhead another look. She wasn’t entirely opposed to locating an action park on Old Country Road.

Nor was the rest of the board.

Or a lot of community members.

Mett, who owns Island Surf in Westhampton Beach, said he set out a petition over the weekend at his shop and it garnered 126 signatures. He told The Press customers come in looking for skateboarding regalia “every day.”

“The outpour of emotion in support is overwhelming,” Mett reported.

The foursome looked optimistically at the 160-acre site off Old Country Road. It has room for the athletic fields under consideration and an action park. It’s so centrally-located, Mett observed, it could become a popular destination for boarders across Long Island who are now driving to Montauk.

As the development of a recreational facility began to gain momentum, it made sense to allow the group to pitch their idea. A corner of the park that could be well-suited to an action-type facility that embraces the far western proportion of the town.

“This site made a lot of sense,” Bouvier said, recollecting a conversation with Doulos. “There is clearly a demand for a skate park.”

Beyond where to put it, board members mulled the budgetary implications. Veronis, who was a founding member of the coalition that pushed for the park in Montauk, said it was built with a lot of community support and donations, far in excess of what the Town of East Hampton contributed. In fact, he said the coalition set up a GoFundMe site and amassed $25,000 the very first week. In all, contributions supported $1.3 million of the $1.4 million cost of the facility, according to Veronis.

“Let’s put Speonk on the map, get the west end of the town lit up,” Mett encouraged. He said he’s embraced the idea of a multi-sport park, even if it’s not downtown. “We’ll get there,” Mett said.

Schneiderman and Bouvier noted that improvements to the public transportation system, and especially a microtransit system that could be part of the development of a town community center in Westhampton, could help.

Bouvier said he wanted to give the men the chance to present their idea and see if the board was interested in moving forward. “I’m hearing ‘yes,’” he said.

You May Also Like:

Challengers Win Trustee Seats in Sagaponack Election

Challengers David McMillan and Mark Landis unseated incumbents Lisa Duryea Thayer and Marilyn Clark in the race for two seats on the Sagaponack Village Board on Friday night. Mayor Bill Tillotson, who was unopposed, won another term as mayor. Tillotson had decided to throw his endorsement to McMillan and Landis, aligning himself with them, he said, because he felt they would be the most committed to his desire to make preservation of open space and farmland a priority in the next term. McMillan led the way with 76 votes while Landis had 68. Thayer had 59 votes and Clark had ... 22 Jun 2024 by Cailin Riley

Simioni, Zinnanti Capture Two Seats on Southampton Village Board on Friday; Deputy Mayor Loses Seat After Four Years on Board

Southampton Village Deputy Mayor Gina Arresta lost her seat on the Village Board in polling ... 21 Jun 2024 by Cailin Riley

Vegliante Dethroned In West Hampton Dunes After More Than 30 Years as Mayor, as Newcomers Seize Majority

West Hampton Dunes Mayor Gary Vegliante, one of the tiny oceanfront village’s founding fathers, lost ... by Michael Wright

Services Announced for Michelle Morrone of Woodbury

A funeral Mass for Michelle Morrone (the sister of Amelia “Ginny” Bauer), 83, of Woodbury, will be held on Thursday, June 27, at 11 a.m. at the Basilica Parish of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary in Southampton. Arrangements by the Brockett Funeral Home. by Staff Writer

Mary Kernell Graves of East Hampton Dies June 17

If Mary Kernell Graves, who, at the age of 72, died of an apparent heart ... 20 Jun 2024 by Staff Writer

Southampton Police Reports for the Week of June 20

SOUTHAMPTON VILLAGE — A Halsey Street resident reported to Village Police that she had received a letter from a supposed collection agency informing her that a Verizon Wireless account had been opened using her phone number and that she had a past due balance of $3,375.15. She reported the incident as fraud so that a police report could be submitted to Verizon on her behalf. SOUTHAMPTON VILLAGE — The owner of a “show truck” that was parked on Pine Street, in front of Southampton Elementary School, called Village Police on June 11 to report that he had parked the vehicle ... 19 Jun 2024 by Staff Writer

Southampton DWI Arrest for the Week of June 20

Marina Neustadt, 57, of New York City was charged with misdemeanor DWI on June 15. A Southampton Town Police officer pulled over a blue Mercedes sedan on Ferry Road in North Haven at about 11:45 p.m. after observing the vehicle tailgating another vehicle and then seeing it wander from its intended lane of travel, police said, adding that, when stopped, the driver appeared to have glassy eyes and smelled of alcohol. Neustadt performed poorly on field sobriety tests, according to police, and was placed under arrest, police said. by Staff Writer

Southampton DWI Arrests for the Week of June 13

Nikki Weber, 31, of Riverhead was arrested by Quogue Village Police on June 10 at 4:26 p.m. on Montauk Highway in Quogue and charged with aggravated DWI, a felony under Leandra’s Law, and endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor. Police said Weber was speeding on County Road 80 and was pulled over. A subsequent investigation revealed she was intoxicated and had a child under the age of 2 in her car with her, police said. She was transported to the Quogue Police station and arraigned the following morning. Jimmy Astudillo-Vasques, 26, of East Quogue was arrested by Southampton ... by Staff Writer

Southampton Police Reports for the Week of June 13

SOUTHAMPTON VILLAGE — Village Police responded to 129 Coopers Farm Road on June 3 at 10:48 a.m. in reference to a report of prior property damage. According to police, a woman saw her carting company, Maggio Environmental, damage the driveway gate in front of her house while retrieving garbage at around 5:43 a.m. via her driveway camera. According to police, the woman said that the truck was unable to proceed past the driveway gate but the operator apparently pushed the gate by hand, causing damage to the control arm and rendering it unable to function properly. She requested documentation and ... by Staff Writer

Incumbents Arresta, Zinnanti Are Up Against Challengers Simioni, Belury for Southampton Village Board Trustee Seats

Four candidates are on the ballot for two seats on the Southampton Village Board, with ... by Cailin Riley