Hank Investigates: Skate Park - 7News Boston WHDH-TV

Hank Investigates: Skate Park

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Where's the skate park?

This empty wasteland was supposed to be the coolest hippest skate park in all of New England.

Right here--in Cambridge under a ramp of the Zakim bridge. There's supposed to be ramps, rails, a large bowl and a wave pipe. If you know what that means--you'd be amped.

Broderick Gumpright, Orchard skate shop owner

"We would love to see this!"

It was announced with much fanfare ten years ago.

A nonprofit, the Charles River Conservancy started fundraising in 2003 and spent big bucks of foundation and corporate money for this impressive state of the art design.

Renata von Tscharner, Charles River Conservancy

"I believe in this park, I've worked on it for ten years, it’s going to happen."

Skateboarders were told it was supposed to be up and running by 2006, then 2008, and the current website says "we expect the park to be open to the public by the end of 2009."

But in reality its 2010 and look: there's nothing on the skate park site but garbage and construction debris and a sign. This skateboarder was invited to meetings to help plan it.

Jamie Cumming, Skateboarder

"At a certain point, they just stopped calling or emailing about the monthly meeting, and then its

just been radio silence."

What's the holdup? Our investigation found the park may be a victim of red tape, bureaucracy and contaminated soil even as the fundraising for it continues.

First: the land itself. We found it's still owned by the Mass Department of Transportation.

The state agency that's going to own and build the park--the Department of Conservation Resources-doesn't even have the rights to it yet!

Rick Sullivan, DCR Commissioner

"That should happen, um, I’ll say soon, and your gonna say when and I don’t have a date for you, but it is gonna happen."

What's more, we have learned this site once used as staging for the big dig is probably contaminated.

Officials admit: they found this area right beside the proposed park is full of asbestos. DCR officials haven't tested the skate park site yet--but assume there is a problem there, too.

Hank

"So you expect that soil to be contaminated?"

Rick Sullivan, DCR Commissioner:

"I think it’s a pretty fair assumption."

The cleanup will cost millions.

Rick Sullivan, DCR Commissioner

"Before we bring in any kind of recreational use we are going to remediate those soils or do construction to the best standards."

And who's even in charge here? No one knows who's going to build the park.

No one knows who's going to run the park. There's not even a document from the state guaranteeing the park will exist.

Rick Sullivan, DCR Commissioner

"The question being was there anything written in place for the last decade, the answer to that is no."

What is working, is the fundraising. The Charles River Skate Park website shows more than 2.5 million dollars has already been donated to the cause, from big time foundations and corporate donors. And look at the sign.. and the website--they’re still soliciting money.

Hank:

When do you expect this park to open, you've raised millions of dollars for it. What's the answer?

Renata von Tscharner, Charles River Conservancy

“I don't know. Projects in the public realm take a while and I think all skaters have to learn all things don’t happen overnight.”

We wondered what would happen to all that donated money if the park NEVER gets built? Officials insisted that was so unlikely they wouldn't even answer the question.

(Copyright (c) 2010 Sunbeam Television Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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