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LA firm chosen for design build of long-awaited skate park

Pictured here is the former site of the original skate park in Community Field, where the skate park was torn down after the City sold land to Eversource to build a substation. The City has put money aside and has been approved grant funds to construct a new skate park in Community Field. A firm from Los Angeles, Spohn Ranch, has been chosen for the design build. (Photo by Jody Houle) (click for larger version)
January 12, 2018
BERLIN – The bidding process for the replacement of the long-awaited skate park began in the summer of last year and now a design firm has been chosen for the design build.

At a meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 2, the City Manager informed the City Council that there were four respondents for the design build. After determining which firm was "the best team for us," according to Wheeler, Spohn Ranch of Los Angeles, CA was chosen.

Mayor Paul Grenier asked if the company is aware of the funding available and Wheeler said "they knew the budget and they know the dimensions of the site. He said "they also know there is an allocation of PWD (the Public Works Department) work as in kind.

Councilor Michael Rozek asked if the company is prepared for the cold up here, and Wheeler said the company will have to use New Hampshire license professionals and that they have worked in New England before.

In order to move forward, the Council needed to vote to approve the firm as the design builders. Councilor Peter Higbee moved to approve and award Spohn Ranch for the job, Rozek seconded and the motion carried.

Earlier last year. Community Development Director applied for a Neil and Louise Tillotson grant for the skate park project. Recently, a $75,000 Tillotson grant was approved. The City has also put aside $50,000 from capital funds and $25,000 of in-kind services that will be used for site work.  

Public Works Director Michael Perreault the City has received input from the public on the design. A survey conducted by a volunteer group outlined the various features wanted for the skate park. In the survey, a half pipe, a quarter pipe, rails, a bowl, a bank, a pyramid, stairs and a ledge were outlined.  

Back in November of 2013, Public Service of New Hampshire, now Eversource, proposed a site plan for a new substation at Community Field because the prior one had failed -- the utility company wanted to replace it and upgrade power distribution to the city. The city council settled to sell 1.1 acres of the park in order to expand Eversource's .29 acre site to make more room for larger equipment. Earlier that year, the planning board had approved the integration of two parcels to make 1.4 acres of site space. The board approved the site plan and agreed to sell the land for $400,000. $250,000 of that was to be used to replace the storage building; $60,000 was to build restrooms at the park; $100,000 was for creating trails in Tondreau Park; and $80,000 was to replace the skate park that had to be torn down. Both the planning board and zoning board approved the site plan and the land was sold to Eversource.  

A couple of years went by as plans to build a new skate park were set back. In May of 2015 during a city work session, it was stated that after building the Gilbert Street Recreation Building, there was not enough money left over for a skate park.  

A group of parents had started a committee to address the desire for a skate park and were upset that it wasn't included in the budget considering that money from the sale of the land purchased by Eversource was supposed to be used to build the park.  

In the summer of 2016, the City announced that it had put aside $50,000 to build the park.  

In December of 2016, the skate park was not put on the agenda for Capital Improvement Projects so it remained in limbo once again.

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