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New hope for Shelter Island Skate Park: Supporters pledge to raise funds

“My husband Phil Mancine loved kids and everyone on Shelter Island. He always wanted the kids to have some place to play other than a playground which was great for little ones,” said Cynthia Michalak about Mr. Macine, whom she lost to kidney disease.

Her comments were online, responding to a story saying the Skate Park, which had deteriorated through the years, could be dismantled.

In her post, she said she always hoped the day would come when the Skate Park at the Recycling Center would be dedicated to him for all of his efforts in launching the fundraising to get the recreational facility built.

Mr. Mancine took his idea to former recreation director Garth Griffin and the Town Board at the time agreed it would bear half the cost if Mr. Mancine could raise the other half.

“He went door to door quickly,” Ms. Michalak said, and generous people made his dream come true. He admitted it was modest, but a start, and something to keep kids outside and active. I always wished they would have dedicated the park to him.”

Meredith Gurney Page said, “Phil Mancine would be upset.” She called it the “end of an era.”

The Town Board has not made a decision, but Islander Joe Denny said he spoke with Deputy Supervisor Meg Larsen who said there is discussion about finding an improved site in the Center for a new Skate Park.

“We are looking into all the possible options for the Skate Park,” Ms. Larsen said. “We have not sorted out a new location, but I would really like to see it moved into the center of town near the rest of the playgrounds and sports area.”

“It has been my life since 13,” Mr. Denny said about skateboarding, a sport he’s enjoyed for some 35 years. He’s also been in touch with Tito Porrata, who created the new Montauk Skate Park design that Dan’s Papers writer Oliver Peterson described as “an incredible park that’s approachable, challenging and unique to Montauk.”

Shelter Island isn’t looking for a park as extensive as Montauk, but Mr. Denny said if the effort is launched, Mr. Porrata agreed to share some advice with those developing it. He acknowledged the site at the Recycling Center isn’t ideal and would like to see a site nearer to students who would use a new, safe park. He also noted he’s not the only adult who enjoys skateboarding.

He emailed all members of the Town Board and said, “We’ll definitely find some money” to pay for a new Skate Park. “It’s not going to cost a lot,” suggesting a GoFundMe campaign might be created.

His wife Julie Fanelli said her husband had drawn a detailed plan to improve the Skate Park, but a previous Town Board had turned it down.

Despite its deteriorated condition, Dawn Hedberg said it is still used by kids and young adults. “There is so little for young people to do on this Island. Taking it away is completely unnecessary and should be vetted before the public.”

Young people on the Island need places that are their own for recreation, Ms. Hedberg said. People are willing to help design a new Skate Park and would contribute to the cost, she said.

As for the existing park, she said she believes it would be used more if it had been maintained. Similarly, Courtney Ratcliffe questioned if the park had been maintained, its use would not have declined.

Luke Lowell-Liszankie, now 22, who has enjoyed the Skate Park through the years, called it a very important asset for the town to have. A new design has to be informed by skateboarders, he said.

Maximilian Pelletier said if the Skate Park been maintained and upgraded, it would have the interest of users. In his online post, he too said there’s little for youths on the Island to do: “Just nothing for the youth to actually do here anymore except school sports, hang out at the basketball courts — notice they revitalized it and people started using it more — or walk around.”

Mr. Pelletier believes the town years ago should have found property for BMX recreational bikes and ATV trails “to at least try to keep the kids outside as much as they could.”

Town Highway Superintendent Ken Lewis Jr. noted he had never suggested eliminating the Skate Park, only commenting that if the Town Board opted to disassemble it, he could use the space it currently occupies.