Marcos Benitez, 12, of Belfast, prepares to ride the wall Friday afternoon at the Belfast Skate Park. The municipal park is an important part of the community, he said. “It’s just a fun place to hang out.” Credit: Abigail Curtis / BDN

As a skateboarding youth in Ellsworth, Derek Cole remembers having a few run-ins with the law for skating where he shouldn’t have been.

While the 35-year-old Bucksport dad doesn’t shred much anymore, he’s leading a local effort to get a new skate park in Hancock County so kids in the region can enjoy skating without potentially chalking up a criminal record.

Cole and his fellow members of Skate Bucksport, a grassroots organization, will go before town officials next week to try to convince them to build a skate park at an old basketball court in town. If that happens, the park would be the only skate park within a half-hour drive.

Julien Richards, 12, of Belmont said that the Belfast Skate Park is important to him. “It’s like a second home,” he said. “I’m here every day.” Credit: Abigail Curtis / BDN

“We used to skate and get in trouble with law enforcement,” Cole said. “Without a place to skate, that’s the type of thing that can happen.”

The idea started to come together when Beau Lambert, who ran a skatepark in New Hampshire that was one of the largest action sports facilities on the East Coast, posted in a local Bucksport Facebook page saying he was looking to give away his ramps after closing his park during the pandemic.

With the chance to get expensive equipment for just the cost of transportation, Skate Bucksport started to form and began eyeing the vacant paved pad between a playground and baseball diamond on Elm Street.

“We’re hoping to use that space to make it more accessible and visible,” Cole said.

The idea of a skate park in Bucksport has been raised in the past but never came to fruition. Cole thought it could be a good thing for the mill town that is trying to reimagine itself. The next closest skateparks are in Belfast, Bangor and Bar Harbor, all a bit of a haul for skateboarding teens to travel.

Ian’s Playground in Bucksport was quiet on Friday, July 8, 2022. The area could be bustling with skateboarders in the future, though. A grassroots group is proposing to build a skate park on the stretch of pavement to the right of the playground. It used to be a basketball court. Credit: Abigail Curtis / BDN

Skate Bucksport will ask the town to facilitate the construction and own the park. If the town is onboard with using its land and running a park, it could happen fairly fast and at a relatively low cost.

With the initial ramps being donated by Lambert and volunteer work from a local carpenter, Skate Bucksport puts the project cost at about $7,000. The group estimated that construction would only take a few weeks, depending on schedules.

Mark Eastman, a member of the Bucksport Town Council, thought it could be good for kids and was generally receptive to the concept, but wanted to get more details on the proposal.

“I’m not opposed to that location,” he said.