The Skatepark and The Return of the “Waiting Sharks” on Elm Street

My friend, Josh Werner, who passed away several years ago, used to go to Turning Point, when it was on Elm Street, before it moved out to Putney Road. 

I shared with him that I had seen people, wating across the street from Turning Point, calling out to clients and members of Turning Point such quaint  lines as, “Hey Jimmy, wanna party ? Come on over to my place”. 

Josh said that there was frequently people waiting, with such invitations who were trying to fight addictions to herion, cocaine, and other drugs that were making it hard to live. Police have a name for dealers who wait near rehab centers. “Waiting Sharks”.

The yellow house in the photos in the articles linked to below,  is the same on in both of these pictures. The Yellow House, Turning Point’s next home, also seems like a tran wreck rolling into the Elm Street skatepark.

Just as it would make no sense to set up Turning Point in the middle of Living Memorial Park,

it makes no sense to site the skatepark in a location most parents are not going to feel comfortable leaving their kids. 

Comments | 36

  • Most likely considered and weighed

    The Selection Committee did an excellent job taking public comments. If this was expressed, I’m sure it went into their considerations. Surroundings were part of the basic criteria, too, if I remember correctly.

    To me this sounds simply like an argument for better policing of the neighborhood, and more “normal” activity, not less.

    • Existence vs Success

      I want the skatepark not just to exist, but to succeed. The police currently are over taxed with their assignments, and can’t keep constant eye on the park.

      If it was in Living Memorial, with the other skating facility, and the baseball, and the skiing, where it belongs, the police would not need to be involved.

      It’s sad that this is unravelling this way.

      • ULMP

        I like your direction toward favoring Living Memorial Park hopefully Upper, however the main argument against it has been precisely about accessibility for police patrol and distance, a distance that keeps it respectful of neighbors I might add.

        I have tried to make the point at many public meetings that this site is very accessible with a main access drive top to bottom void of the interference of traffic with open site lines as well as three accommodating parking lots, respectful buffers, bathrooms, pool and concession stand, close to emergency services ect. amenities…. among many other intermittent summertime activities well spaced out or even the notion of introducing summertime roller derbies in conjuction at the skating rink. Speed bumps for safety and a gate to limit hours of use could be easily installed, skate trails could align to each side of this road switch backing down a slope scooters, roller bladders and long boarders would enjoy as if a stroll through the park you could get excited about.

        There is still a definite undefined reluctance (by BASIC itself, neighbors, some rec park committee members who unsuccessfully tried to rule it out at last meeting) in the air for this site even with the expansive room it offers existing underutilized up there, the beautiful setting and ideal contours, so the compromise seems to be Elm Street which I still think is an excellent choice using existing hardtop in an Urban environment with downtown attractions for youth skateboarders love.

        ULMP is no less accessible than West River park currently is also having a similar main access road and once a serious contender as a skate park site ruled out for flood plain issues just prior to when I became involved going on four years now but never heard anything against site lines.

        I’m not so sure I agree with your description of “unraveling” considering this isssue has been scrutinized to death, slapped back and forth, and with no doubt a certain amount of political spin, rhetoric, charming the great arrow of decision counter swinging it back and forth some riding high, some never letting go as if a pendulum sprung from the weight of it all. We will know what the outcome is on Tuesday July 1st, a day I hope I’m looking forward to.

      • Living Memoria Park

        Thank you for posting this comment. I too see that Memorial park would be the best solution. I go to the park daily for a swim, it’s easy to get to and has bathrooms, supervision…etc.

        I live on Elliot St. and am sandwiched between the Elm street parking lot and Crowell park. In either direction I will be impacted. Elm more so than Crowell. I see Elm as a very busy corner and a location of quite a few assaults in the past. A few of them on young adults.

        Let’s organize all our activities in the same location. I am discouraged by the choices that the town has entertained for the skate park. We have two huge areas for sports: Route 30 Park and Living Memorial Park. Either one could absorb the noise that will be generated by skate boards.

        I am experiencing that our inner town has more noise then it can currently accommodate. We, who live on the Frost, Elliot & Elm street triangle section of town have a 24/7 factory running on Frost St. and then there’s the traffic noise and dogs barking and…crickets singing? What is the sound of silence? No, we can barely hear the cricket’s song and forget silence.

    • Skate Park Location

      I wasn’t going to comment here, but I’m really sick and tired of those with their over zealous obsession fixed for the Crowell Lot site to instigate and degrade the potential of Elm Street parking lot, (the overwhelming winner selected by the SSSC using the extensive process in rating each site against all criteria), using scare tactics by associating this site as being located in the hub of drug trafficking activity, when in reality it is the absolute best and obvious choice having considered the wide array of all the criteria involved/concerned.
      Elm street has by a long shot the necessary and superior, wide open site lines completely visible for patrolling squad cars who pass several times a day. Try driving by Crowell Park in the thick of traffic moving right along on your tail and you will, if you are keen enough have about four seconds to observe or scope out activity at the park before descending down the slope where the hedge/hill or parked cars interfere and obscure your view, that is it, the remaining borders have zero visibility. And if you do get a snapshot view of the park as you travel by, you just may very well be putting yourself in a perilous position by being distracted at one of the most dangerous intersections in Brattleboro.

      I live in the neighborhood around Crowell, where there have been at least three traffic related deaths, I would say an impending and serious concern, as well as several drug busts near apartment buildings on Western Ave and in immediate area to the park, one a drug related double kidnapping two houses away where I witnessed the apprehension of that particular suspect from Springfield Mass. Wake up, and smell the coffee, drugs are a systemic blight on Brattleboro with predators circulating from afar, not to mention Vermont the readily available host as a whole and to treat it as if it is an isolated problem confined to one area, is really missing the big picture. If there had to be an alternate, Living Memorial Park would be a ideal place for a skate park having 68 acres (acing about 95% of the criteria), much of which is underutilized, 9 months out of the year.

      • thanks for speaking up

        Placing a child on wheels in the middle of an intersection sounds too risky for anyone. Why are we promoting risky choices for teens when we have the option for a safer alternative?

        I enjoy reading about the parameters to decide, thank you, however feel uneasy about this juxtaposed location.

  • It's everywhere

    If parents are truly concerned about “leaving their kids”, they might consider not leaving them, no? Can we not expect parents to do some of the policing of their own children, too, no matter where they might leave them? (I know, this would be a bummer for lots of at risk teenagers, but we are talking about a very wholesome cohort of young athletes who don’t do drugs, smoke cigarettes, or have premarital sex and their adult skateboarding mentors who will also be at any skatepark. Remember?)

    Additionally, if drug dealers sense a potential new market from which they can increase profits, will they not go to wherever it is? No matter where a rehab center or skatepark or school is, predatory dealers will find it and establish a presence if they believe they can make money or build a client base.

    No matter where a public skatepark is planned (even at the top of the steepest most dangerous accident prone intersection in town or the wholesome fields of LMP)the concern for sex and drug predators (and all potential forms of harm to youth) should be recognized as a possibility and planned for accordingly (e.g., responsible supervision, either hired or parental) if there is a significant risk believed to exist.

    • I agree with you. Now the Elm

      I agree with you. Now the Elm Street lot looks to be a bleak, isolated spot fraught with probably many real and imagined perils. But imagine it filled with skaters of all ages; of all socio economical groups; of people who are engaging in a healthy, fun and body and spirit building activity. Drugs are all over this town – one only needs to linger in front of the transportation center for awhile on any day and you can acquire drugs in many forms. If kids – skaters or not – want to find drugs they will – if dealers want to find kids to sell to – they will. Obviously the park will need some vigilant eyes on it – maybe older skaters; maybe parents, maybe a group of volunteers could be found who would be willing to do a shift or two. I’m assuming that parents are not going to leave their 9 or 10 year olds at the skate park – or anywhere for that matter – unsupervised. I also see dozens of kids coming and going from NEYT without being accosted by drug dealers or pedophiles. I think once the park is built and operating different issues will come up and solutions will have to be found but until then we have to use some common sense and see how it all plays out before assuming that there will be a line of bad people just waiting at the park to harm our kids.

  • Hey Jimmy, wanna party ?

    I have been a long time “Friend of Bill”. (That’s a dogwhistle term for a member of AA).
    Since Elm Street Turning Point AA meetings were very convenient to my home, I frequented many of them. TNTC, in fact. (AA is not restricted to people with Alcohol problems. Many members are cross-addicted.)
    I can’t say I ever observed any “Waiting Sharks” at any time – ever!
    I’ve heard this rumor before. It’s a frequent issue brought up by neighbors opposing some sort of treatment facility in their neighborhood.
    The reality is, Brattleboro doesn’t need any waiting sharks. I am aware of several locations in town where the visitor activity is strongly suggestive of illegal activity.

    • Goodness

      Some of my family members have had their lives saved by places, gatherings such as Turning Point.

      It certainly was a place that my friend Josh went to. He didn’t survive, but it was part of his attempt to do so.

      But, goodness, in people as well as in institutions, is rarely unadulterated. With the return of Turning Point downtown, there will be the goodness that it is easier to get to, for people who are trying to stay alive, and to live good lives.

      “Hey Jimmy, wanna party” however, is not a rumor. I heard it with my own ears, and it was confirmed by Josh. I believe you Tomaidh that you never heard such. If you don’t believe me, we are no longer having a conversation, just typing at each other, which is pointless.

      The idea that all places are equally capable of being invaded by violence or, by those hoping to sell drugs is factual, but also not realistic. People are not dealing cocaine on the slopes of Living Memorial Park, and parents do drop off teenagers there, to go skiing, or sledding, or skating, regularly. It’s a park.

      In contrast, Elm Street already has to be patrolled.

      Why would a park meant for teenaagers be best set at one of the parts of town already challenged, where a teenager was actually stabbed, which according to police reports is already an area for drug activity?

      Answer: There are no vocal neighbors near enough to the unsafe portion of Elm Street to stop it from landing there, so that is probably where it will land.

      Living Memorial Park has both the parking, has the bathroom facilities that neither Crowell nor Elm Street has, and it is a safe place for teens to hang out, but it has vocal opponents, so, the skate park probably won’t go there.

  • getting the band back together?

    The committee may have engaged in an open process, but this phase was engendered by political fallout, which is not the same as operating from a place of expertise.

    Rolf’s point is extremely germane, safety and the aura of security is paramount. And it would be wrong to just assume the result of the search is without kinks or blindspots. I hope the project succeeds, but do see the scene for what it actually is.

    Worth considering:

    The Elm St Hill is pretty fast and formidable, and way more tempting to bomb than Union Hill. In a tight space bounded by echoey buildings the issue of noise can’t have been too well understood if quiet was a priority. What about the dearth of bathrooms? Or the shadelessness of the spot, forcing skaters into hot sun all day.

    As to supervison/mentoring/parenting, understanding the flow and patterns of use would bring into focus the fact that some kids will come and go all day, some will drop in on a whim. Some are old enough to need being driven but don’t want their parents hovering. And on and on. That’s why mixed use is undeniably superior.
    And, the scooters will descend in force, no doubt adding to the traffic. (They’ll be able to legally roll to the facility, skaters won’t- go figure).

    Also, I’ll reiterate a point I’ve made before that was not responded to. If there’s an attempt to salvage parking and revenue, and just give a corner away, forcing a tight footprint and poor lines, it will result in a less fun, less used facility.

    The solution is to dedicate the whole lot and design with a full measure of features within and surrounding. I appreciate the effort the committee made, and hope the SB has the wisdom to act appropriately for the best result.

    • I think you answered some of

      I think you answered some of your own concerns stressed when considering our future local skate park’s exposure to the current harmful circumstances people fear most, that being drug infiltration and peddling, has to by a degree be acknowledged as a probable and common detriment to any site selected, all unfortunately vulnerable and susceptible.

      The solution may honestly require the necessary presence of supervision, whether it’s BASIC coordinating a watchdog schedule of volunteers or additional funding to pay for a permanent position just as if hiring a summertime lifeguard at the pool. I’m sorry, in my opinion your argument that relying on “mixed use” on it’s own given the particular climate affecting Brattleboro, somehow positively assures or detour/police any illicit activity is conveniently naïve, given any out of hand instance may in fact adversely inhibit/ intimidate or discourage peaceful enjoyment for other park uses in such close confines/relation such as the abutting play set at Crowell given no room for expansion whatsoever considering the grounds limitations, no site resides in a perfect world wonderland obviously.

      Yeah, you can pick Elm street apart again and again ( representing a thoroughly vetted possibility finally and generous gift from the town to it’s youth you question), but the reality is, there isn’t a completely perfect spot, I think that has been established, but it is by far the best and most potentially successful choice for Brattleboro in the long run and deeply appreciated. To me “regifting” Crowell park as a compromised skate park site is disrespectful to all those who currently enjoy this area.
      At Elm, Bathrooms are a walk away, shade could be created by landscaping or open shelter to the side (as opposed to cutting trees down cramming concrete into valued fully utilized green area at Crowell or peeing in the woods).

      ” The tight space bounded by echoey buildings” aren’t you one of those who advocated and defensively banded together stating that today’s skate board activity does not generate offensive noise and you have scientific sensing analysis to prove it and back it up?! Or is it just ok that this same noise that supposedly hardly registers is ok to reverberate off homes the same distance away in a surrounding residential neighborhood without adequate buffers in place. Maybe a little feedback toward skaters from adjacent vacant buildings at Elm ( a commercially zoned area) is a good reminder of the fact that noise will always be an issue to those it affects and a real trade off unless emerging technology proves otherwise or kids decide not to vocally express themslves when thrilled .

      • Where are the bathrooms that

        Where are the bathrooms that can be walked to? (That is one of my main concerns)

        • Parking Garage

          There’s one in the Parking Garage. Oh, wait, that’s an elevator.

          • good for something

            ha ha ha ha! (and sometimes it doesn’t even go up – or down)

        • There are rest rooms in the

          There are rest rooms in the transportation center office -they are only open until 4 PM, though. And there are bathrooms at the co-op. Not ideal, I agree.

    • shade options

      There are many very artful options to create sun/solar shade structures that would be functional and aesthetically interesting. Trees are not advised in Peter Whitely’s public skate park planning manual, particularly trees that shed leaves annually.

      Again, this can be designed to be an asset to downtown. The urban design possibilities are endless. The more interesting it is, the more people will be interested in seeing it.

      • on the fence

        I skated around the Elm Lot today, scouting dynamics of a possible future…

        A few quick and necessary impressions: it’s right on the road, flush to the road, and the opposite side has no space, just a strip and Cersosimo’s fence. Which means it’s going to be narrow, and if that’s the verdict, then it has to be long if there’s any chance for a public-sized public skatepark.

        If the parking spot quotient is kept high, this will be fishbowl at best. And I agree, it could be a splendid, fantastic bonsai-like skate gem…with retractable solar roof, tendrils of ivy lacing gluten-free soundproof buffers, and a cool-off pool at the base of the entryway..

        Yes it could…is this what we want? Ok, scratch the esthetically ambitious version, and go for a spartan ramp, with a few elements at the outskirts. Is that the goal? Or maybe the idea is something less claustrophobic and more serviceable to a general and hopefully a growing population; that’ll take creative use of the whole lot to unfold in that space.

        Whatever the manifestation of the dream, it seems to me obscene, embarrassing really, to now again put the onus of raising the funds solely on the backs of tired volunteers, who may not even buy into this location.

        Will anybody in the meeting KNOW the reality and kinetics of a skate run? What will the criteria for decision be? Will anyone in that room making that decision have a clue what the G forces feel like rolling down Elm St hill? Or understand what it’s like to get slammed as a result of dodging an onrushing toddler on her razor scooter?

        • man

          ….to personally answer your facetious question as I see it, you obviously know it all, but quiet honestly I don’t remember seeing anyone speak up at any town meeting I’ve been to in lets say the last 2 years concerning the skate park siting or re-siting that could be you with such identifiably strong opinions and expertise, so you remain a mystery man of sorts. After all this we will just scrap the whole deal because it doesn’t meet your standards or expectations, IDTS.

          • Too many times to the well

            There’s nothing facetious about it. And, everyone within the skate movement knows me, as do Carol and many members of the SB. There’s no mystery at all. I’m the guy who got it rolling at LMP a decade ago, been there through the West River search and abort, and was there at the birth of BASIC.

            I’m not torpedoing anything. Just saying what I see and have always seen. Speaking from my experience. Just like you and fellow SOPC’s did last go-round. Besides, it’s not about me, why the urge to dox me? It’s actually about the skaters, and that’s why I post.

            In addition to any other civic issues, at the root of this I’m a skater, and have been all through this process. And a parent. I’ll advocate for safety and excellence. And nothing I’ve said here is new. You all will do what you will do, that much has been made abundantly clear.

          • Because

            Because what you seem to be eluding to is a desperate attempt to shift the focus back to the Crowell lot site failure, as if it would be the right choice which really scares*** me (as a parent of a skateboarder) considering the track record and high risk of surrounding traffic accidents w/ pedestrian included I’ve witnessed over the years(16 yrs worth) and what’s actually at stake when denying or muting this hazard, possibly another, this time younger life. Elm Street is not a major road way and high speeds over 25mph are uncommon and with minimal traffic comparitively much easier regulated there.

            You guys still persist even though it is totally limited at Crowell, less than a third of the space Elm offers unless you want to defoliate that entire side of the park which if chosen would devastate valued existing older shade trees ( a fact), at the same time displaces/compromises or even crowds out the very uses that already make it a fully functioning mixed use park with some nice shady patches of grass in- between so little kids in this neighborhood aren’t always skinning their knees and can feel nature’s green earth when they want to roll around on it, it’s about them too as they are directly affected in such close quarters if replaced with concrete.
            Thinking back that was unintentionally sexist of me to suggest you where a mystery man when you could have very well been a skateboarding women, sorry about that much. If skateboarders can have fun riding stair railing, jumping steps, plunging in- ground pools or gradual slope, why can’t an excellent design be conjured up for Elm meets the needs and will be attractive, it’s a blank sheet to fill in as far as I see it.

          • well

            We are all headed to the well tomorrow eve (6:00 pm) for another look within of the refined possibilities, lets hope it hasn’t dried up or leaves a funky after taste when all is said and done!

          • To the Well

            It appears to be a bottomless wishing well!

        • Deja Vu

          Many of the concerns being identified at this particular time are the same or similar to the concern that original opponents of the Crowell Park
          2-man “plan” identified at its onset (poor planning, multi-purpose use related collisions, bombing down a proximal hill, for example). Skaters were argued to be less likely to be interested in cigarettes and drug use than most youth because they were athletically inclined and interested in developing agility skills. And the fact that they were raising the funds themselves gave them a sense of pride-of-ownership for its creation.

          Now a site selection process has truly, openly been publically vetted and a location has been identified (that previously had been forbidden)and we are back to all the original concerns that a poorly “planned” site selection process produces.

          • Location

            Well, Zippy, you have just got ALL the answers! I don’t know why they didn’t just ask you where to put it in the beginning!

          • thanks, Joe Bob

            I am actually considering writing a public skatepark planning guide chock full of historical insights and recommendations. It’s going to be called:

            “The Brattleboro, VT Public Skatepark Plopping Guide: Handbook of Do’s and Don’ts and Don’ts and Don’ts – and more Don’ts – When Planning to Plop a Skatepark Here or There, or There.”

            Chapter 1: Rammin’ and Jammin’: Rollin Out a Site Selection Process (or Two)

            Chapter 2: Top or Bottom of a Steep Hill for High Speed Roller Sports for Youth?: Thinkin’ The Plan Through.

            Chapter 3: Consulting Experts: DON’T DO IT!

            Chapter 4: Let’s ALL Get Goin’: Are Public Toilets a Good Idea?

            Chapter 5: Half-pipe, Quarter-pipe, Pole Jams, and Cement: Dealin’ With Pesky Neighbors

            Chapter 6: Rich Town, Poor Town: Putting Maintenance and Liability in Perspective

            Chapter 7: Oops!: Startin’ All Over

          • Schadenfreude

            Since, now, a transparent and open process has also brought inconclusive result, your comment comes off as either gloating, or insensitive.

            I’ll remind everyone, the decision to stall results in yet another year of no legal skating. And unsurprisingly, no initiative was raised for an interim solution.

            If you don’t skate, it’s not a problem.

          • Priggish and Pinched

            No, Spinoza, neither gloating or insensitive – simply pure evil incarnate.

            My muse was speaking. I heard it saying,”if we can’t laugh at ourselves, we will be left the only ones not laughing.”

  • Why does this not surprise

    Why does this not surprise me? After 20 years of waiting, this is unfortunate. I doubt the site will be moved, people will have to be diligent. Drug dealers harass people in other parts of town, moving the site won’t make much of a difference.

    • Rehab

      Could it be with the skate park facing the Rehab center Turning Point, point blank, it might just serve as a positive reality check for those considering a life of substance abuse for themselves and where it ends up?

  • Bringing the Recovery Center Back Downtown

    The Turning Point recovery center is returning to downtown so we can be closer to the community of people in recovery from addiction. People who turn away from alcohol or drugs become happy, healthy, contributing members of our community. There is hope. Our center offers positive messages and support from peers.

    We hope to join the people in the neighborhood who already are working so hard to make it a safe, wholesome area. The F.E.E.T. group (Frost, Elliot, Elm Triangle of Brattleboro) formed about three years, and has done some fine work to make the neighborhood safer and more attractive. Turning Point wants to help “take back the neighborhood” and provide an alternative to unhealthy activities. If the skate park ends up on Elm Street, we’d look at it as an opportunity to bring recovery to younger people who may need it, or who have friends who may need it, and to support their efforts to keep the skate park a fun, safe place to be.

    Predators being what they are, sharks always find a place to lurk. They circled the neighborhood when we were there, and they circled the area after we left. We know we’ll have to be vigilant about keeping our guests safe and working with our neighbors and the police to keep the surrounding area safe, too. We can all work together to do this.

    Turning Point, and the message of recovery, is a positive change for the neighborhood.

  • Kids and Parking Lots

    The reason I favor the downtown location for the skate park isn’t because I think it’s such a beautiful, wholesome place to be but because it’s where lots of kids already hang out. When I first came here in 2001, there were armies of young people in Harmony Lot. Adults didn’t like that so the kids moved down to the parking garage and Flat St area, or hang out further down on Elliot. The parking lot across from the garage also has a regular contingent of kids and in fact, that’s where I see the most skateboarding, on the pavement by the pedestian bridge. The Boys and Girls Club is on Flat and so is NEYT. It seems sort of youth oriented by default.

    Crowell Park has always been there but I don’t see skateboard age youth there very much and I live a few blocks away. At Crowell I see little kids on playground stuff and older guys playing basketball. Teens of any age could go there but they seem to prefer the gritty streets of downtown where I’m guessing they hope to stay somewhat under the radar to avoid being chased out again. Downtown has stores for cold and hot drinks. As for bathroom facilities, the lack doesn’t seem to have deterred kids from being there.

    If fhe point of the park is to provide a great space for kids and adults of all ages to practice their skatebaording skills in a safe, supervised environment, then Living Memorial is probably the better choice. But if the aim is also to reduce the numbers of kids using skateboards elsewhere, then Elm seems like the better spot since skateboarding youth are already in the area.

    • wouldn,t it be nice

      Wouldn’t it be nice to see a big welcome sign light up in fireworks for the 4th of July events at the top of LMP or the bottom Of Elm Street downtown or both saying: “Future Home of the Brattleboro Skate Park” would people cheer?, I bet they would.

  • Tonight's the night!

    Don’t forget, come to the Municipal Center in the Select Board meeting room at 6:15 pm to show your support for the Brattleboro Skatepark! What will YOU DO to contribute to this invaluable project once the location has been chosen?

  • Elm Street parking lot and dope dealers

    As a renter on Elm Street I want to bring readers up to date on the neighborhood. Although there is still a drug problem in this area I want to add that in the time since The Turning Point moved and the present, the neighborhood is starting to change. I live in that apartment complex that used to solicit the people on the street. It is under new management, the drug dealers evicted, young working people and retired folk like myself have found it both a convenient and an inexpensive location in an increasingly expensive town to live in. No one in this building complex deals drugs and even the police have taken notice of this.

    Yes it is still rough around the edges here. Especially on Eliot Street but with the community college going in and the convenient location, and the fact that no one wants to live here, the rent is cheap which, slowly, is starting to attract a new and different population. There are new apartments being renovated behind me and soon will be ready for renting. A skate park in this neighborhood would be an added attraction and a plus for this area.

    As a new breed moves into this area I am certain in a few years time this neighborhood will be quite different from what it’s been the past 15 or so years and be restored to a former charm. A skate park can help that along.

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