And because it’s so popular, it has been a challenge for park system members to hold private programs for the community. But now the park system will be able to keep the existing Skateplex open while hosting programs when appropriate at the new rink. According to Chris Robinson of Branded Skate Shop, located next to the skate park in Long Branch, the store has had “a pretty steady amount of younger kids coming into the shop to check things out and inquire about beginner boards.” Almost daily, he has a parent come in and say that their child has an interest in learning to skate, he said. The existing Skateplex, above, was last renovated in 2015. The park system will soon put almost $1 million of work to add features for beginners nearby on the property.Photo by Allison Perrine Dip benches, magnetic bells, weights, cables, pull-up bars, suspension trainers and more are some equipment pieces that will be installed. The outdoor workout area will be geared toward adults. According to Sardonia, he and other park system members noticed that people were using the lifeguard pull-up area after their runs or walks. “We said, ‘Well, hey, let’s give people an alternative here,’ ” he said. “I think it will be a real welcomed addition as far as the skaters are concerned and we’re concerned,” said Joseph Sardonia, supervising landscape architect. “This is going to be like a premiere facility on the East Coast.” He expressed mixed emotions about separating the beginners from the experienced skaters. “For the most part I think it is fine how it is, but there is definitely some times that would work nicely,” he said. “I don’t think it would have to be completely aimed toward beginners, but it would be very nice to have another facility with some smaller ramps. Even as an experienced skater of 20 years, I am still learning new tricks. It is still fun for me to skate a park that has smaller ramps. Overall, I do think another park for beginners would be nice.” There are other skate facilities available in Monmouth and Ocean counties. Aside from town skateparks in Hazlet and Atlantic Highlands, Kennelly noted new facilities in Neptune and Brick Township that could be good for younger users. “Brick is a more advanced park, but the new Neptune one is smaller and great for beginners,” he said. But Long Branch would be his best pick for younger children to learn to skate, he said. “It has the most to offer for all ages and levels. Even after skating there for almost 15 years now, I still have a blast at the age of 27.” The project will cost about $982,462 and will be done by Your Way Construction, Inc., of Irvington, as stated in a resolution approved by the Monmouth County Board of Recreation Commissioners Nov. 4. Sardonia estimated that work could begin at the beginning of next year and, based on the weather, the facility could open by March or April. Matthew Kenelly completed a “Backside Smith Grind” at the skateplex.Photo courtesy Matthew Kennelly “This is kind of a learning facility, so someone who’s just learning to use a skateboard might feel more comfortable,” said Spears. He said the current skate park attracts a wide range of users, some nationally recognized and highly skilled. That’s where they observed the need for a place for beginners and younger children to learn and practice. The existing Skateplex underwent “a massive redesign” in 2015 to update most of its features with a new concrete street course, according to the park system. It now offers grind rails, quarter pipes, skateable planters and more to its users. It is open year-round from 8 a.m. to dusk and admission is free. Kennelly added that he sees young children skating at the park, which he enjoys. “It’s very refreshing to see them out there trying to learn all the basics. I was in their shoes 20 years ago when I first started, so I know how it feels,” he said. “It can be intimidating at times, especially when you have the older, more experienced skaters around.” In 2017 the Monmouth County Open Space Plan Citizen Survey showed that skate parks were one of the most requested amenities by respondents. Surveys were distributed to over 40,000 people and drew 3,258 visits to the survey website. Of that total, 874 surveys were completed and 98 percent of responders lived in Monmouth County. Robinson said he is surprised there has not been a push to add a BMX – bicycle motocross – portion to the park or elsewhere. “There are a lot of bikers who try to use the park, but are not allowed to.” He said the park is great for the area and brings people in from all over the state and outside of New Jersey. “I think if a town has the money in their budget and there are enough people in the community fighting for a park and there isn’t one close, then it needs to be discussed. It gives a lot of these kids somewhere to go and helps keep them out of trouble,” he said. “There is always a great vibe there, never any issues with fights or anything like that. The older kids are very welcoming and supportive to newer, younger skaters being there and trying to learn. It’s verycool to see.” New features designed for beginner skaters will be implemented just behind the existing county Skateplex at Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park in Long Branch.Photo courtesy Matthew Kennelly Middletown resident Matthew Kennelly, 27, has been skating at the Long Branch Skateplex since it opened in 2005. He said the existing facility is “amazing” and “very enjoyable,” though he does sometimes miss park features present before it was revamped in 2015. LONG BRANCH – Youngsters and beginners looking to take up skateboarding will soon have a new facility at Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park. The county will expand the skate park and add outdoor fitness equipment in the spring. Aside from upgraded skateboarding facilities coming to Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park, there will soon be new amenities for athletes and fitness buffs. According to Spears, new outdoor workout equipment will be installed in the coming months. Because many people jog in the area and use the oceanfront park as a daily workout spot, he said it can be “another option for them to include on their daily run” and “a nice amenity for visitors trying to stay fit.” It will feature various cardio and weight training equipment. New skate features like small ramps and jumps are coming to the former inline skating rink that was damaged during Super Storm Sandy, according to Andrew Spears, assistant director with the Monmouth County Park System. It is located next to the existing Skateplex on Ocean Avenue North. “Personally, I do think it has something to offer for all levels,” said Kennelly. “It has many different obstacles varying in size and height, which I think is perfect for all the different types of experience out there.” The 2019 Park System Recreation Services Plan showed that fitness and sports have high participation rates nationwide and that young children, ages 6 to 17, seem to be focusing on outdoor activities. It also showed that fitness participation rates are increasing in several areas; running and jogging are up 7 percent and walking for fitness is up 2.7 percent. According to the Monmouth County Park System, the 38-acre Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park had about 625,918 visitors in 2018.
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- Near $1M Expansion for Popular Skateplex in Long Branch