How We Were Able to Rebuild Our Childhood Skatepark by Tristan Cornelis




About 10 years ago some local skaters in New Milford were in contact with the town helping organize the upcoming build of a new skatepark. These dudes proposed a design and I’m pretty sure they even had a few legit skatepark builders lined up to do the job. Anyway the town did its normal town type bullshit and ignored the suggestions of the skaters for whatever stupid reason. They gave the job to a company that specializes in precast concrete pipes for big sewage lines…. not skateparks. I have no clue what the budget for the original job was but the park sucked and had features that were literally un-skateable. They had these two 6 stairs with handrails that were probably the most dangerous obstacles I’ve ever seen in a skatepark. This shit was so bad that Thrasher featured a photo of one of the stair sets in it’s “Certified Piece of Suck” in 2012.

The place opened in 2007 and regardless of how shitty it was the park became a home to a lot of dudes and everyone found a way to make the best of it. The place was bustling in its early years and a lot of really good sessions were had in that park. Be Easy was actually founded at the skatepark in 2010, so obviously it has a special place in a lot of our hearts. But by like 2013 the park was starting to lose some life. We all still skated there a bunch but it was only because it was close to home. It was hard to get a satisfying session in at that park.



In August of 2016 I think it was Russell Parker who sparked the idea of building a little DIY quarterpipe against a 4 foot wall in the park that was total dead space. Nobody had any real idea of how to make legitimate concrete ramps, so we went to Home Depot and bought everything we thought we needed to make a QP: bags of quikrete, 5 gallon buckets to mix it in, a few gallons of water, and maybe one steel trowel. We take a bunch of dirt and rocks for fill and just pile it up in the corner where we want the ramp, and then we mix up the concrete in these little buckets and start dumping it on top of the fill with no forms, rebar or nothin. Long story short the quarter pipe still comes out super sick, it has like a foot of vert on it so it was gnarly as fuck, but a fun feature. Everybody is so stoked on it that we start repeating this process all over the park and start making hips, banks, all sorts of other stuff. At one point we even graduated to mixing in a wheelbarrow to increase productivity.

After buying probably 60 bags of concrete and spending countless hours of work, the park was actually starting to get sick. There were all sorts of new lines in the park and everybody else who would come to skate was just as stoked on the new stuff as we were. The skatepark started to get a little bit more popular and the sessions became so much more satisfying. But after almost a year of us making unauthorized changes to town property, the New Milford Parks and Rec shut down the park on June 1st of 2017, due to liability concerns.


[ o ] - Aydan Crumrine



They claimed our work to be “vandalism” which is obviously complete bullshit but it wasn’t that much of a surprise. Honestly I don’t even know how we got away with doing it for an entire year without having any problems with the town or the cops. We would just lug dozens of 80 pound bags of concrete from our cars to the skatepark in broad daylight with the whole town park watching. But either way I was pissed and I wasn’t about to let the town come through and ruin all that hard work just to make the park shitty again. So I called the Parks and Rec office and asked them what I could do to keep the park from having to go back to what it used to be. In an effort to get me off the phone, they told me to start a fundraiser and come to a Parks and Rec meeting on June 19th to propose the idea formally.

Justin Gotthardt had a connection with a park builder named Dave Peterson from Rampage Skate Parks, so he gave me Dave’s number and I got in contact with him a few day’s later. Dave was super down for the cause and agreed to come to the P&R meeting to propose the idea. He even offered to teach us how to do all of the time consuming prep work on the park so that we could keep our labor costs as low as possible. This way all of the fundraised money could go towards material costs and we could get more new features. So a few days later I figured I’d make a GoFundMe page just for the hell of it, thinking it probably wouldn’t gain that much attention. 4 days later there’s $5,000+ donated from 75 different people. I could not believe it. People from the town start calling me offering political support, the newspaper calls me and wants to do a story on the park, it was crazy.

So Dave, myself, and a bunch of the guys go to the first Parks and Rec meeting to discuss possibility of a rehab job. Obviously they loved the idea now that they know we’ve got 5 grand to contribute to the project and 10 guys willing to donate their time and labor. They tell us to create a digital rendering of the proposed skatepark design and to come to the next meeting to get full approval. The only thing is, the next meeting is 4 weeks away….


[ o ] - Aydan Crumrine



4 weeks later and we go to the meeting with a 3D rendering that I made of the new design, as well as a proposed budget of $9,880. The money from GoFundMe ended up being $5,200, and we planned to ask the town to pay the remaining balance. They approved the design, and the Parks and Rec Department gave us about $3,000 towards the project. They then told us to go to the Town Council meeting a few weeks later, and request funding from them for the rest of the proposed budget. I was getting so fed up with the town’s bureaucratic bullshit and it honestly felt like we were never gonna get to start the build. But the two long weeks went by and I finally got in front of the Town Council and they agreed to give us the rest of the money. So finally, after basically 2 months of dealing with town politics, we had the green light to get to work.

Dave met us at the park August 3rd, 2017 with a truckload of tools and materials that he was going to let us use to build the park. Tons of rebar, plywood, 2x4’s, a concrete saw, a jackhammer, drills, jig-saws, and so much other shit that we never could have acquired on our own. He spent the entire day teaching us how to build proper forms and showing us how everything needed to be done. From there on out it was up to us to get the place ready for concrete. Once it was ready, Dave would schedule a concrete truck and come back with a few of his professional concrete finishers to take care of the pour. We were down there every day for hours on end tying rebar, building forms, making cuts in the asphalt and jackhammering out trenches for our new ramps. I’d FaceTime with Dave all the time to show him our progress and ask questions about what needed to be done next.


[ o ] - Aydan Crumrine



On August 10th we got our first truckload of concrete delivered to the park from Sega Concrete out of New Milford. Huge shout out to that company, they saw the article in the newspaper and offered to donate the concrete at cost, which is unheard of. This ended up freeing up close to $1,000 dollars in our budget, and was the reason we were able to make so many extra additions to the park. We got 10.5 yards of concrete down that day and it was such a sick day. It was crazy seeing the stuff from the digital rendering take life after all this time of planning, waiting, and working. After that it was back to building forms and preparing for the next pour. The next truck came a week later, and another truck a week after that. All in all we ended up putting down 4 trucks and close to 40 yards of concrete, which on a budget of less than $10k is absolutely insane. The last day we poured concrete was August 28th, after nearly a month of work. After that we’d still be down there everyday getting the place cleaned up and ready for opening day. And of course, we had to do some quality control, just to make sure the ramps were safe for the public :)


[ o ] - Aydan Crumrine



The grand opening happened September 9th, complete with a ribbon cutting from the New Milford Town Mayor and officials from the New Milford Parks and Rec. A ton of homies came through from the surrounding areas and it was a great day of skating and chillin. We were there from 10am until probably 8pm when it got dark and we were forced to stop skating. I’d say close to 100 people came and went throughout the entire day, including all the parents and town related folks. Everyone seemed to love the park and they all say that it’s worth the drive from as far as an hour away. That right there makes it so much more exciting, knowing every so often our homies that we rarely see from other towns will come through to skate our new park.


[ o ] - Aydan Crumrine



This build has been one of the most defining experiences of my life, and I know I don’t speak for myself when I say that. Dave Peterson from Rampage Skateparks is godsent and we thank him from the bottom of our hearts. This guy lent us thousands of dollars in power tools, countless hours of his unpaid time, and an immeasurable amount of knowledge. To make things even better, he’s hiring 3 of the homies to help him on his next big project in New Britain. “Internships over, time to get paid”, Dave tells me over the phone. Hahah, gotta love that man. This park that he helped us build will be here for decades, and never again is a New Milford kid who wants to skate going to have to drive hours to skate a decent park. I’m so grateful to have gotten the opportunity to be a part of something like this. There’s a lesson to be learned from this story that goes far beyond skateboarding. If there’s something in life you want, go out and get it yourself, don’t wait for it to come to you. Organize, network, ask questions, and do whatever it takes to get what you want. When you come together as a group and all work to achieve the same goal, failure is not an option. The Be Easy boys really outdid themselves this time. I love you guys, good fuckin work.


[ o ] - Aydan Crumrine




[ o ] - Justin Gotthardt




[ o ] - Justin Gotthardt


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