Concord skateboarders work to create their place at the park

  • GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

  • LEFT: Friends from left, Liam Dunn, Nick Muzzey, Spencer Dunn on skateboard, Tyler Castro-Giovanni and Chris Rydel at the Concord skateboard park on Loudon Road on Wednesday.

  • Spencer Dunn, 23, jumps at the Concord skateboard park on Loudon Road in Concord on Wednesday, July 1, 2020. Dunn has skateboarded at the park for years and is the subject of videos for his abilities on the skateboard.  GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Friends gather at the Concord skateboard park on Loudon Road on Wednesday. The group has cleaned up and painted the area, including a jump dedicated to their friend Jon Smith. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Friends from left, Liam Dunn, Nick Muzzey, Tyler Castro-Giovanni and Chris Rydel at the Concord skateboard park on Loudon Road on Wednesday, July 1,2020. The group has cleaned up and painted the area, including a jump dedicated to their friend, Jon Smith. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 7/6/2020 5:57:29 PM

A group of Concord skateboarders are breathing new life into the city’s skatepark on Loudon Road.

The park’s regulars came together this spring to clean up litter and repaint the area behind Everett Arena. The effort is part of a push to make the space more inviting to Concord residents, as well as to draw support from the city.

“We really care about this place, and we really care about our community,” Nick Muzzey, one of the park’s longtime regulars, said.

The park is small, only about the size of a tennis court. Concrete and wood obstacles – mostly ramps and rails – jut out of the cracked asphalt.

Despite its size, an active skating community calls it home. Many have frequented the park since the late ‘90s when it was built. Tyler Castrogiovanni, now 28, has been skateboarding there since he was 7 years old.

“A lot of us grew up together,” he said.

Talk of cleaning up the area began in May, when Director of Concord Parks and Recreation David Gill emailed Castrogiovanni saying the city may build a new skatepark as part of potential renovations to Kiwanis Riverfront Park. Gill asked that in the meantime the skating community help improve the skatepark’s image.

The skaters got to work later that month, paying out-of-pocket for paint and other materials.

“It’s nice to see everyone come together,” Chris Rydel, another member of the skateboarding community, said.

They cleaned up the litter, bringing down a trash can to keep garbage at bay. Then there was the years of graffiti buildup, which seemed to cover all areas of the park indiscriminately. The obstacles have since  been restored with a fresh coat of paint, and the team is making progress cleaning up the graffiti on the asphalt.

Even with the new paint job, the park has stayed true to some of its original artistry – a giant “Stay in school!” still sits in the middle of the asphalt, greeting guests as they arrive, as does the American flag on the top of the park’s centerpiece ramps.

Other elements of the park pay tribute to Jon Smith, a member of the skating community who died in 2018. The team repainted Smith’s name in stylized letters on the sides of ramps and refinished a picnic bench dedicated to his memory.

This is not the first time the Concord skaters have led efforts to improve the park.

In 2014, they started building their own obstacles out of wood and concrete mix. However, the DIY additions were soon dismantled by the city due to liability concerns. Most of what remains is original to the 30-year-old park. The city considered renovating the space in 2016, though the plans ultimately fell through.

The recent restoration has helped the park turn a corner, Castrogiovanni said. On an average day, he sees 10 to 30 people there. Most of the park’s guests are in their teens or 20s, but lately more and more families have been spending time there, as well.

“We do want it to be a family place,” Muzzey said.

For many in Concord’s skating community, the park is a second home, Rydel said. Many are there every day after work.

“It’s definitely a family,” Rydel said. “Everybody takes care of each other.”

On June 17, the Concord Parks and Recreation Department posted a message on their Facebook page thanking the skaters for cleaning the park.

In a follow-up email from late June, Gill told the skating community there are currently no plans to renovate the skatepark, but that discussion would continue in the fall. Gill did not respond to a request for comment.

As the cleanup continues, Muzzey said the team is keeping track of receipts for paint and materials in hopes that the city helps them with some of the cost.

“We want to show them the amount that we’re putting in this, and we would like at least a little bit of support for something we love,” he said.

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