, Newburyport, MA

March 19, 2013

Longboarding proposal encounters bumps in road

Selectmen wary of closing town road for event

By Jennifer Solis

---- — WEST NEWBURY — Town officials are not yet sold on a proposal to use one of the steepest spots in West Newbury for a longboarding competition.

In a letter to selectmen dated March 6, two students from Masconomet Regional High School in Topsfield asked to meet with the board to discuss the possibility of holding the event on Archelaus Hill Road.

Located on one of the steeper inclines in West Newbury, Archelaus Hill Road is attractive to fans of longboarding — a sport similar to skateboarding, only with a longer and wider board.

Tyler Bainbridge and Peter Guariano are hoping to host a “Longboarding for Life” competition there to raise funds for the American Cancer Society. The young men see it as a way to combine a sport they love with an important cause. The event would require closing the public road for a good portion of the day.

But at a meeting last week, Selectmen Chairman Bert Knowles appeared less than enthusiastic about the idea and his colleague Dick Cushing said that although he admired the skill it takes to be proficient at the sport, he would need more information before he could approve the request.

Police Chief Lisa Holmes said she had some “serious concerns” about closing Archelaus Hill Road. She said she and Fire Chief Scott Berkenbush would like to attend any meeting selectmen arranged with the young men.

Bainbridge and Guariano raised more than $1,500 at a similar longboarding fundraiser in Boxford last June. They were inspired to hold the event after a lifelong friend and classmate was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2011. After numerous interactions with Boxford officials, they got the OK to close Bayns Hill Road from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. to accommodate the competition. The event was attended by 120 people from across the country and deemed “a huge success” by the organizers.

“People had smiles on their faces all through the day,” the letter said.

If West Newbury selectmen approve their request, Bainbridge and Guariano vowed to take safety precautions during the event by placing hay bales at the bottom of the hill and requiring participants to wear helmets and safety gloves and to sign liability waivers.

Selectmen are waiting for the boys to contact their administrative assistant before they discuss the request further.

Selectman Glenn Kemper was not present for the discussion.