Parkesburg Point Youth Center held a meeting last week on the proposed outdoor skate park in the parking lot of its facility on Main Street.
The John Gillen Memorial Skate Park, in memory of Gillen, 21, who passed away from an accidental heroin overdose in July 2011, was a skilled skateboarder, who used his talent to mentor other young enthusiastic members of the community that shared his passion for skateboarding.
While the Point already has an indoor skate park, it can be difficult to keep younger people engaged indoors during the hot summer months. The new, outdoor skate park will provide a healthy alternative and spark interest, as well as offering older and more advanced skateboarders a chance to continue his mentoring legacy.
During the meeting, Betsy Gillen, Gillen’s mother and the director of the Kacie’s Cause Parkesburg Chapter, told the story of her son’s gift and about his struggles. She also drew attention to the issue by pointing out that only represented one of a large number of Parkesburg youth affected by addiction.
“Together, we envision the skate park to be a fun, healthy, Christian-based environment that will offer education, support, and a safe haven” she said a place “where kids are reminded that a drug-free lifestyle will guarantee a better chance for a successful future.”
The President of the Parkesburg Point, Dwayne Walton, also went over some of the logistical aspects still required to bring make the park a reality, including the total projected cost. The biggest boost to the project came from the Brandywine YMCA, which has agreed to donate ramps and equipment valued at more than $150,000.
However, the existing financing, while substantial, is not yet fully in place, as almost $40,000 still needs to be raised to cover other expenses such as excavation, paving, fencing and signs. During the meeting with State Representative Harry Lewis Jr. together with his wife, Regina, donating $1,000 and Betsy Gillen said that Kacie’s Cause would also donate $1,000.
Donations for the park can be made by check or online via PayPal through www.parkesburgpoint.com, clearly indicating it is for the skate park fund.