By JAIMIE JULIA WINTERS
A year after Montclair authorized the installation of a temporary skate park at two of its Rand Park tennis courts, some neighbors say the noise created by skateboards hitting temporary structures is “unbearable.”
Meanwhile, skateboarders continue to push for a permanent park, with a rally scheduled for this weekend.
To mitigate some of the noise, the city council is considering changing the hours of the skate park, currently from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
It passed a first reading on April 20 of a measure that would set the hours from June to September for from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. from Monday to Saturday, and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday. From October to May, the hours would be 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
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The measure was scheduled for a public hearing and possible vote on May 4.
“We can’t sleep with our windows open at night,” North Fullerton Avenue resident Nicole Rubin told the council on April 20. “I understand you are changing the hours from 84 hours per week to 76 hours per week during the summer, but that does not address the overarching issue that the city has allowed skateboarders to use tennis courts for a skate park. “temporary”, but this temporary skate park has been around for over a year and without any noise attenuation.
Karen Janifer, who lives on Forest Street, told council skaters are sometimes there until midnight, with music playing.
“Changing the hours won’t help. They are not on schedule now, ”Janifer said, adding that the temporary equipment is not suitable for dampening noise.
Currently, posted signs indicate that the times are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and users have a maximum of one hour of skating. The maximum number of skaters is five at a time, and they are advised not to congregate.
Township manager Tim Stafford said the hours could be enforced by closing the park at night and reopening it in the morning. But Mark Janifer, Karen’s husband, said the hours were still too long and “residents need a break.”
City Councilor Peter Yacobellis said the equipment was being scaled up to reduce the “ricochet” noise that temporary hollow equipment creates when a skateboard hits it.
Because the ramps and jumps are hollow, they echo, said Paul King of Skate Essex.
Three other attempts in the past 17 years to secure a permanent skate park have failed. But Skate Essex and the Montclair High School Skateboard Club joined forces in 2019 to request a permanent space for skaters. Since Tuesday April 27, this petition had collected 3,774 signatures.
King said he met with Mark and Karen Janifer and Rubin in late March and early April to resolve the noise issues.
“We identified that wooden railings with metal transition pieces was an area where we could tell the difference with sound attenuation. The wooden ramps are hollow on the inside with open backs, causing the sound to amplify similar to that of a drum. And the metal transition piece reverberates across the surface, ”King said.
He said this sound attenuation has already started.
Skate Essex consulted with skate park designer and Olympian Alexis Sablone, who visited the park in January and will be creating skate sculptures for the space. The suggestions they implemented included place rubber liners under the metal transition pieces, rigid foam insulation on the inside of the wooden handrails and close the back of the handrails with additional timber. Skate Essex donated the $ 400 in equipment.
The Janifers are also researching an acoustic blocking material, used to dampen sound on the pickleBall grounds, in the hope that it will be installed by the Municipality on the fence. And the installation of Alexis Sablone’s weathering concrete sculptures, for which the municipality has pledged $ 10,000, will also help reduce noise, King said.
“At the end of the day, a professionally designed concrete skate park is the solution,” he said.
There will be a “Push for the Park” rally on the Rand courts on Saturday May 1st at noon for a permanent concrete skate park.
King said ideally a permanent skate park would be 24,000 to 31,000 square feet and be centrally located. He said Rand Park has the space and is the place to be.
MHS club advisor Jamie Siwinski said costs for the skate park could range from $ 45 to $ 65 per square foot. He said there was money to be found through grants from the Tony Hawk Foundation and the state’s Green Acres Fund.
Skate Essex will be hosting a ‘Push for the Park Rally’ starting at 11:30 am on May 1 at Watchung Plaza. The group will then proceed to Rand Park on North Fullerton Avenue, the site of Montclair’s temporary skatepark, at noon where a lecture program will take place. The rally will focus on establishing a permanent skatepark in Montclair. Members of the skating community, local officials, parents and children will speak at the rally, with music hosted by Terry’s Serendipity Cafe.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that city council voted to change skate park hours. The township adopted a first reading of a measure to change the hours; a hearing and a possible final vote on the measure are scheduled for May 4.
This post has also been updated to clarify seasonal changes in the proposed schedules.