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Township Plans to Take Out Wesley Bishop Skate Park

'It's had its shelf life,' said recreation director Theresa Miller, explaining that repairs have gotten too costly for the township to keep up.

The township plans to demolish and remove the David Gentile skate park at Wesley Bishop. Credit: Rob Scott
The township plans to demolish and remove the David Gentile skate park at Wesley Bishop. Credit: Rob Scott
After struggling the last few years to keep up with repairs, the township plans to demolish the David Gentile skate park at Wesley Bishop Park.

Recreation director Theresa Miller said the park, which was built in 2002, has been closed for some time due to its condition (though skateboarders have frequently ignored signs and used the park anyway). She explained the wood at the park is rotted to the point where repairs are no longer an option, and replacement is too costly.

"It's old. You just can't keep fixing it," she said. "It's rotted ... It's wear and tear. It's had its shelf life."

Town council approved a $413,000 bond ordinance Monday for projects at Wesley Bishop and Memorial Field. Part of that money will be used to remove the skate park, leaving Moorestown with no skate parks after the removal last year of the Black Diamond skate park at the Moorestown Mall (which was taken out to make way for the new Regal Cinemas theater).

Miller said the recreation department reached out to the local skateboarding community to inform them of the demolition, but got little response.

She said there are no plans to replace the park presently, but added that the Recreation Advisory Committee would meet in September and will be "kicking some ideas around."

Miller pointed out that Medford that when Medford put in a concrete skate park a couple years ago, it cost approximately $250,000.

The skate park at Wesley Bishop was named for David Gentile, who was paralyzed from the neck down in a football game in 1979. The park was completed with the help of a $120,000 donation from David’s mother, Joan Gentile. David died in 2001 at the age of 36.

Council approved several other bond ordinances (on first reading) Monday for roughly $4 million worth of capital projects:
  • The other half of the $413,000 recreation bond will be used to improve the track at Memorial Field. Miller said she applied for a $250,000 county grant to fund the project, but hasn't been informed yet whether it was approved. She was unsure whether the township would go through with the project if it did not receive the grant.
  • $1.5 million for a road resurfacing program. Financial officer Tom Merchel said the township hasn't undertaken a major road resurfacing project since 2010. The township engineer will perform a study of the township roads in need of repair and provide a long-term plan to council in the near future.
  • $855,000 for new Public Works vehicles and equipment. Again, Merchel said it's been a few years since the township purchased new equipment for Public Works. In some cases, "we're replacing some really old stuff," he said.
  • $285,000 for the repair of various dams at Strawbridge Lake.
  • $1.1 million for water and sewer utility improvements.
Council will hold a public hearing at its next regular meeting Sept. 9 to formally adopt the bond ordinances.
Public Works employee September 05, 2013 at 03:26 PM
I guess this is how the new council conducts business.
East Side Resident September 11, 2013 at 04:07 PM
Fire the Rec director and save 80 G`s You can use that to refurbis the skate park.
Trunks and Tusks September 11, 2013 at 08:03 PM
Hey east side, that's low to attack the rec director. In fact kudos to her and Councilman Phil Garwood for making the rec programs a success for our towns kids and citizens.
Jim September 11, 2013 at 10:51 PM
Trunks, are you kidding me? Have you been by our parks lately? Unkept landscaping, disgusting restrooms, broken equipment... Not to mention the Rec's programming, or lack thereof. While I'm at it, can they stop using the phrase "the rec is sponsoring..." in their press releases? When you pay taxes AND charge a fee the program is not being 'sponsored'.
Tom September 12, 2013 at 07:34 AM
Has anyone parked in the municipal lot recently? The lot is always full yet the conditions are deplorable with weeds everywhere while just a few short feet away, our tax dollars are hard at work making our government offices pretty. When does the taxpayer come first?

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