David Gentile Skatepark closed due to deteriorating conditions

After being closed for parts of 2009, all of 2010, and for the majority of 2011, the David Gentile Skatepark in Moorestown is once again going to be closed for an extended period of time.

A regularly scheduled inspection of the park revealed several of the wooden structures and obstacles at the park are in dire need of repairs. Theresa Miller, township director of recreation, said the repairs would cost the township about $20,000.

The park was first closed to the public on April 19.

“You always have to have quarterly maintenance done on the park and it runs about $1,000, which includes an inspection as well. Based on the quarterly maintenance that was just completed, the company found that extra repairs have to be completed. The repairs that have to be done now are up to $20,000,” Miller said.

Miller said there is no money in the budget for the repairs to be completed now.

It’s a popular park with local and out of town skaters, Miller said. The township doesn’t have any concrete numbers of how many visitors the park gets each year, but it is usually packed with young skateboarders, she said.

She said she had “no idea” if the skatepark would be permanently closed if the money couldn’t be found for the repairs. She said her first task was to reach out to the public to try and find options to reopen the park.

Because the park was built more than 10 years ago, it was built with mostly wooden structures and obstacles, Miller said. Now, most skateparks are being built completely out of concrete, which cuts down on the annual maintenance costs greatly.

Miller said visitors using bikes in the park, which is against complex regulations, intensified the damage to the park. Because the bikes are much heavier than skateboards, wooden obstacles deteriorate much quicker than normal.

Miller and the recreation department met with Dave McCollister, the former owner of the Black Diamond Skatepark in the Moorestown Mall, to investigate options for the park.

The park was named after David Gentile, a Moorestown High School football player who was paralyzed from the neck down in 1979. Gentile died in 2001 and his mother donated the funding for the 15,000 square-foot park to be built.