AMESBURY — The next step in the evolution of skateboarding in the city kicks off this week when construction begins on improvements to Brian Eldredge Memorial Skate Park.
Amesbury Skate Park opened in the early 2000s. The 4,000-square-foot park was renamed the Brian Eldredge Memorial Skate Park in late 2018 and the Amesbury Improvement Association set out soon after to raise $45,000 to improve the space.
Eldredge was an avid skater who died from pancreatitis in May 2018 at age 29. His mother, Donna Eldredge, has spent the past two years working with the association to make the skate park’s renovations a reality and said the fundraising effort really only had a year to pay off.
“We really only got in one heavy year of fundraising and then COVID-19 happened,” she said. “We really felt it wasn’t appropriate to try to raise money while people were out of work and struggling to make ends meet.”
North Carolina-based Artisan Skateparks has been hired to design the new park.
Artisan Skateparks representative Tom Dupere is part of the original skateboarding generation in Amesbury. He was a good friend of Eldredge, who helped teach him how to skate and remembers a time when he and his friends would drag homemade ramps onto what was then the city’s tennis courts in the 1980s.
“We would build ramps at our houses and drag them over there,” Dupere said. “Basically, any piece of wood was a ramp at that point.”
Artisan Skateparks initially approached the project as a complete redesign but, because of the cost, decided to do the work in three phases, Dupere said.
“There is an existing centerpiece that we are going to build over in Phase 1 and that will dictate what is happening around it,” Dupere said. “Then, we can build off of that in our other phases.”
Dupere said people can expect to see concrete being poured at the site soon after Thanksgiving.
“I feel great about this,” he said. “Considering everything that has been going on for the past year, $40,000 is a pretty good fundraising number. We hope to go for a bigger phase next time and hopefully get back to in-person fundraising. We have been slowly building things over there on our own. It is a slow process, everything takes time and money. Now that we have a bit of a budget, it takes a lot of the weight off my mind.”
Donna Eldredge said Phase 1 of the project will cost roughly $80,000 and is scheduled to be completed in mid-December. She thanked Atlantic Trucking, Amesbury Industrial Supply, Shea Concrete and the Capolupo family of Salisbury for generous donations of materials.
“I am really proud of everybody who has volunteered to help us by donating or volunteering at fundraisers,” Eldredge said. “They really motivated us to start fundraising for Phase 2.”
Although Eldredge was tight-lipped about the plans for Phase 2, she said it should be something to remember.
“That is a very exciting phase and I think that the kids will be really excited once they start seeing what we have planned,” she said. “They will be incredibly excited.”
Anne Ferguson, president of the Amesbury Improvement Association, has made the skate park a passion of hers for many years.
“This is one of those projects that I started when I was on the City Council (from 2007 to 2015) and it was the only thing that I didn’t get accomplished when I was there,” she said. “But I have been keeping at it ever since. So I am feeling very happy. We are trying to do something positive in the middle of this pandemic. This is so important to us and it is a great way to remember Brian. He was a great kid.”
Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.