A fundraising campaign is kicking off to redevelop Belfast's Eric Overlock Memorial Skatepark. Organizers have set a $200,000 goal to build a larger, in-ground concrete park with grass and seating that skaters and spectators alike can enjoy. Credit: Abigail Curtis / BDN

Five years after Belfast City Council gave it the stamp of approval, redevelopment of Eric Overlock Memorial Skatepark is finally moving forward. But it could be several more years until skaters can feel the concrete under their boards.

Belfast is one of many communities across Maine revamping their aging skateparks to offer bigger and better features while skateboarding continues growing in popularity, thanks to social-media trendsetters and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Credit-card lender MBNA, a former giant on the midcoast, first shelled out $150,000 in 1999 to build the 5,000-square-foot Eric Overlock Memorial Skatepark with wooden ramps and half pipes. MBNA also financed Rockland’s skatepark, which locals are similarly looking to rebuild.

The Belfast Parks and Recreation Department’s skatepark subcommittee is now planning a massive overhaul that will transform Overlock Park into a 7,500-square-foot, in-ground concrete park with green space, seating, and lighting.

The initial price tag was estimated between $175,000 and $210,000, according to Norm Poirier, director of parks and recreation. But building material costs have continued to climb in 2022 so the committee scaled back the project, adding more green space, Poirier said. The changes leave the current cost estimate at $200,000.

Some fundraising began in 2019, said redevelopment project manager Heather Q. Hay. However, that was stalled during the pandemic, Poirier said.

“We’re rekicking it off,” Hay said. “We’re getting our gears back in action.”

Hay said the redevelopment will mostly be funded by donations and grant funding. The committee is using events, including a fundraiser planned for late October, to help demonstrate community support on grant applications.

The committee needs to raise $170,000. The remaining $30,000 has been earmarked by the Belfast City Council. 

The timeline for completion, however, is currently foggy. Poirier anticipates it will take two or three years to raise the funds, while Hay is optimistic that construction can start this time next year. Either way, both Hay and Poirier believe they’ll hit their monetary goal for the project to move ahead.

Community members love the park — whether they used it as children when the park was first built or use it now, Poirier said.

And Poirier said the redevelopment will increase love for the park because it will be a space for everyone to enjoy — not just the skaters. He said it will become a spot where grandparents can enjoy watching their grandchildren skate as well as a location to sit and eat a sandwich.

The fundraising event, Spooktacular Showdown and Hoedown, is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 29 at 1-10 p.m. It will start with an all-ages skating competition at Overlock Park and end with live music, food, drinks and dancing at the Belfast Boathouse in Steamboat Landing Park at 6 p.m.

Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled the name of Norm Poirier, Belfast’s parks and recreation director.