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Skate park plans no longer included in Easterwood Park renovations

BALTIMORE -- A plan to build a skatepark in West Baltimore's Easterwood neighborhood has been removed from the city's park renovations to-do list, according to the Recreation and Parks department.

This decision prompted people to protest at the foot of city hall by long-time skatepark advocates on Monday evening. 

"This is not just a demand. This is a call to action," skateboarder Chrissy 'Sosii' Brown said.

The Skatepark of Baltimore, a non-profit organization, stated the news that the city would no longer move forward with building a place to ride at 1522 N. Bentalou St. broke in July. 

Since then, those in support of a skateboard area in Easterwood Park have attempted to reverse the decision. 

"Let's rally around the youth and use this to uplift and support them," Brown said.

The park improvements will include a new playground, new and expanded pathways, resurfacing basketball courts, a new fitness circuit, upgrades to the entrance and a new fence along Bentalou St. 

New court fencing and additional lighting are also a possibility, but the skatepark is not part of this phase. 

"As we pursued further funding and community input, it was determined that the overall park improvements were a great need," said Tierra Brown with the Baltimore City Recreation and Park Department. 

WJZ was given a tour of the park, which showed exposed rebar, cracked walkways and an unfinished fence area to name a few. 

But Brown's father, attorney Warren Brown,  said he feels there is enough funding to move forward with both the renovations and the skatepark. Inequity in recreational opportunities for kids and young adults in West Baltimore who want to skateboard would continue if not reconsidered, he said.

"There's some who would say, 'Well, skateboarding in a Black community? We need more than just that.' My response is: put down the funds and pick up the board," Brown said. 

Community advocate Marvin 'Doc' Cheatham said youth in West Baltimore have to travel miles by skateboard, public transit, or other methods to access other city-owned skateparks.

This includes Skateboard Park of Baltimore in Hampden. 

"I told my neighborhood I would give my life for this skateboard park," Cheatham said. "If we can't fight for our kids, who can we fight for?" 

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