“The park is now viewed as a destination in itself, attracting skateboarders from around the Northeast and Canada.”
On June 4, 2016, superstar skateboarder Tony Hawk dropped in to Burlington’s new $1.4 million waterfront skatepark, electrifying the opening-day crowd and putting the final stamp of authenticity on the project, one that drew together Vermont’s signature mix of progressive thinking, action sports, community activism and socially connected businesses.
The roots of the park trace back to the 1980s, when Burlington mayor Bernie Sanders led a crafty legal battle to wrest control of the waterfront away from Central Vermont Railway and back into public hands. In 2000, the city opened a modest skatepark, but, made of wood, it was already decaying by 2008, when a group of college students and passionate skateboarders formed a coalition to push for a new facility. Acceptance was far from automatic — there were concerned raised by neighbors about noise, among many other obstacles — but the coalition persevered over the course of seven years, raising funds from something as small as donations at farmers markets to grants of $10,000 from the Tony Hawk Foundation and $40,000 from Vermont snowboard giant Burton.
Ultimately, of course, the coalition prevailed, and the park has become one of the jewels of the Burlington waterfront.