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Skatepark will bring more than memories to Carnegie

| Wednesday, July 3, 2013, 11:29 a.m.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Mary Pitcher of Scott Township hugs her son, John Pitcher, 31, also of Scott, with his son and her grandson, Rook Pitcher, 3, in front of the future site of Pitcher Park Memorial Skatepark at Carnegie Park, Friday. The park will be built in memory of Pitcher's two sons, Stephen and Vincent, who drowned in the Warren County reservoir in 2008 with funds, from the Pitcher Park Memorial Skate Park Foundation, the Tony Hawk Foundation and the Ken and Carol Schultz foundation.
Submitted
Pitcher Park Memorial Skatepark Ground Breaking artist rendering.

Mary Pitcher hopes the skatepark she envisions will benefit Carnegie, in addition to memorializing her sons.

“A skatepark will bring more business,” Pitcher said. “We think it will become a destination skatepark. It will bring business to restaurants, shops and everything.”

A ceremony marking the start of construction on Pitcher Park in Carnegie Park is set for 7 p.m. Sunday, nearly five years to the day since two of Pitcher's sons were killed during a camping trip. Vincent, 21, and Stephen, 19, drowned in Kinzua Reservoir on July 15, 2008.

The $600,000 park has been funded largely by a grant from the Ken & Carol Schultz Foundation, an Arizona nonprofit run by former Bridgeville resident Ken Schultz, with the foundation and borough raising 15 percent of the total.

The Tony Hawk Foundation disbursed the grant money, and Grindline Skateparks of Seattle designed and will build the skatepark with a large, unique full pipe, two bowls and a street course with obstacles. Construction could be complete in four to five months.

Philip Salvato of 3rd Street Gallery in Carnegie said the park will be a positive for the community.

“I think, overall, it will be good for the area,” he said. “I just wish the park were closer to town. But I do think it will bring people into town.”

A skatepark can have a far-reaching impact on a community, said Peter Whitley, programs director for Hawk's foundation, based in Vista, Calif.

“We're turning kids from a perceived public nuisance to regular kids who are athletic and passionate,” Whitley said. “It legitimizes what these kids are already doing.”

On top of that, he said, the complex will promote a healthy, active lifestyle among youths.

“Childhood obesity is such a big deal,” Whitley said. “We're always talking about getting kids out and having them be a part of the community. It makes sense to draw them into places where they can do that.”

Pitcher said she feels strongly about this.

“It's a vicious cycle with these kids,” she said. “They skate and bike in groups, and anytime people see a bunch of kids in a group, it's automatically considered a gang.”

Pitcher said kids who skateboard are discriminated against because they have no place to go. They end up in parking lots or on the street, which leads to run-ins with police, she said.

While the foundation doesn't have much data specifically on the economic impact of the parks on communities, Whitley said feedback from community leaders in skatepark towns has been positive.

“When a skatepark opens, it can draw people from the outlying communities to bring their kids to the skatepark,” he said.

John Rusnak, borough engineer in Bellevue, said he has seen this firsthand in Bellevue's recently opened skate plaza.

“I've talked to people out skating, and they're from places like Washington and Somerset,” he said. “Word gets out amongst the skateboard community, and when they hear of something new people want to get out there and see what's there.”

Pitcher, of Scott, tried unsuccessfully to locate the skatepark in Dormont, then looked at sites in Mt. Lebanon and Scott before an agreement was reached with Carnegie officials to put the complex in the borough park off Forsythe Road.

Fundraising continues for a spectator area at Pitcher Park, through memorial brick sales and other programs.

Megan Guza is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 4120388-5810 or mguza@tribweb.com.

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