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December 18, 2013

Skate park petition garners more than 250 signatures

By Sherri Kolade
C & G Staff Writer

ROCHESTER — After a local skate park near downtown closed recently, a 17-year-old Rochester resident and skater decided to start a petition on change.org to potentially bring another one to the city.

Noah Achrem, a Stoney Creek High School junior, said that he became interested in starting the petition because residents in the area wanted to fill the void that the skate park left.

“In an attempt to keeps the streets clear of riders, and to give the local kids somewhere to go, I created this petition,” Achrem said in an emailed statement.

As of Dec. 16, 257 people had signed the petition at www.change.org, under “build an outdoor skate park for local children.” The petition was created in early December, he said.

“It shows just how many people, like, care for it and believe in the same things,” Achrem said recently.

The South Street Skatepark, 410 S. Main St., shuttered earlier in the year. Representatives from the business could not be reached by press time.

Achrem said that when his petition for a skate park in the city receives between 500 and 1,000 signatures, he will go to city officials to see if something can be done to create a skate park.

“I was hoping by then (to) have some contact with the mayor or (other city officials) and show them, ‘There is this many people who feel that we need this (skate park), so I would like you to consider that we need this.’”

He added that he would present the information to them and hopefully break down stereotypes of skateboarders.

“A lot of people look at skateboarding and people who skateboard as, like, disrespectful people, but it is really not,” he said. “It helps kids grow and get friends and stay out of trouble, and helps them with exercise. I just think that it (skateboarding) is stereotyped.”

He said he hopes that if there is any talk of a park, city officials could consider the Rochester Municipal Park, or another park in the city.

He added that the skate park would not only benefit skaters, but the city’s economy, too.

“It would be important and bring business to Rochester, and bring more people down here and make us look like a better city.”

Rochester City Manager Jaymes Vettraino said he thinks the idea of a skate park petition is great.

“They decided this issue is something they feel passionately about and someone thought the change.org website would be a good way to communicate with their elected, appointed officials,” he said. “I applaud the kids for getting involved and expressing their opinion on this particular subject.”

Vettraino said that since the skate park closed this year, city officials have had an internal discussion about possible skate park opportunities.

He said one of the key points to having a skate park would be making one on a larger scale.

“It has to probably be a regional facility and regional consideration, so all the kids that are part of the Rochester Community Schools (could skate),” he said. “It is probably, in my mind, good to think about this as more of a regional than a community or even a city project. I think it would be a bigger draw.”

Vettraino said that it is a good idea for the residents to be involved, but something else can be done, too.

Vettraino said that though all of the petitioners may not live in Rochester, it would be good for them to still get involved. Whether by scheduling appointments with city leaders or discussing funding ideas, it is important to be vocal, he said.

“That type of involvement I would encourage the signers of the petition to do within their own city, but certainly it is on Rochester’s radar,” he said.

For more information, go to www.change.org.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Sherri Kolade at skolade@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1046.