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Delayed construction of Oak Island’s new skate park allows more time for public input

Published: Dec. 21, 2021 at 8:53 AM EST
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OAK ISLAND, N.C. (WECT) - Matt Troetti, owner of Never Ever Boards in Oak Island, seems to get one question more than any other — and it’s not about his merchandise or inventory.

“That’s probably a daily question. What’s going on with the park? When are we going to get the park back? Do you know anything about the park?” Troetti said. “The excitement has not gone away.”

Hurricane Isaias pummeled Oak Island in August of 2020, flattening dunes and flooding streets.

The Kevin Bell Skate Park could not escape the destruction. It was so damaged that it had to be leveled to the ground. All that’s left is a concrete slab that has taken a back seat to bigger projects, Troetti said.

“We were working hard to try to bring the park back, but then the main focus of the town was beach nourishment,” he said. “They were trying to repair the island after the hurricane, rightfully so, and the skate park really took a back seat at that point.”

To bring the issue to town council’s attention, Troetti started a petition to rebuild the park that managed to rack up over 1,500 signatures.

“Really pushing to get things on the agenda to make it a focus and showing to the town like, ‘hey there are people interested in this,’ so we did our best to draw as much attention as possible,” he said. “And the proof was kind of in the pudding for the interest that people wanted this park back.”

The good news: Oak Island has budgeted $300,000 for the new skate park and has also just awarded a contract to designer Artisan Skateparks to do the job.

The bad news: even skate park designers are not immune to pandemic challenges.

“Once we started talking with the designer and really seeing where they were at with their construction teams and just — unfortunately looking at the way the world is right now as far as materials and labor shortages, you know, quickly it became apparent that that wasn’t going to happen quite as soon as we’d hoped,’ said Mike Emory, Oak Island Communications Manager.

The town originally wanted to break ground on the new skate park in the spring, but now construction will not start until the fall.

But “there are positives in every situation,” Troetti said.

“Now with them starting in September what this is going to allow is more planning up to that point. More public and community input up until that point,” he said.

Town council will hold a meeting for public comments in January or February, according to Emory, so that anyone can provide their input on what they would like the skate park to have.

“Moving forward we are going to start having some public input meetings to get some ideas and just, you know, general concepts from the public on what they would like to see from this. The designer is then going to take that and incorporate that into some designs they are going to provide,” Emory said.

Troetti is holding a raffle in his skate shop to try and generate more funds to add to the town’s $300,000.

Those funds are all going toward phase one of the project. A pump track is being considered in a separate phase two that will be started at a later date.

Town leaders also plan to keep the skate park’s name. It is dedicated to the late Kevin Bell, who was the catalyst for building the skate park on the island, according to the Oak Island Recreation Department. The skate park was actually one of the first in the state.

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