Bicentennial Park on the north side of Geneva’s downtown is often the site for large, organized events. But, some city residents say that it could be better used on a day to day basis. Joe Marone is a founder of the Finger Lakes Skate Club. He would like to see skateboarding move from the small park on Lyceum Street into downtown and he’s worked with Gabriella D’Angelo from Hobart and William Smith Colleges to develop a plan to bring action sports to Bicentennial Park.
“We want to create a park that is more approachable. There is nothing wrong with the design. I think it was very thoughtful. Once you get in the part it is really kind of cool. But, a lot of it’s getting into that park. We have a need for skateboards. We have need for that park to be opened up. It’s nice to see the rec department doing a lot of cool things in that park, too. I hope that continues and I hope that this project goes through because that’s what this project is all about. It’s not just for skateboarders. It’s not just about skateboarders.”
Marone has long been an advocate for skateboarding in and around Geneva. He teaches skateboard classes through the City’s recreation department. He’s also used to working with local officials like Geneva City Manager Matt Horn.
“When Joe came to us with this proposal to not only to allow action sports in this park, but to really create a multi-user experience where you should be as comfortable sitting on a bench and just enjoying the lake views as you are grinding a rail or grinding on one of the curbs. The old ways were to build a half pipe somewhere in a municipal park and tuck it away so that people don’t have to look at it. We want to celebrate our young people. We want to celebrate the fact that we are in an action sports region. And, we want to continue to demonstrate that we put these types of uses on par with other kinds of recreational uses including the lakefront and downtown.”
Marone is also working with Drew King, a graduate of Hobart and William Smith who stayed in Geneva to operate Space Vinyl on Exchange Street. The two are working to open a small skateshop behind King’s current storefront, just about a block from Bicentennial Park. While there’s an obvious benefit to bringing the sport downtown for a new business, King sees it as part of an ongoing evolution of downtown Geneva.
“Exchange is the new Linden. We were kind of joking around about it, but I mean even in my three years of being in this storefront, just this summer alone I’ve seen so much more foot traffic, it’s crazy. And, we have the Senator that’s right next door and we have a Congressman that’s, like, two doors down and in between both of them is Finger Lakes Live Music Hall that’s opening up. That’s a concert hall that was started by more Hobart students. That’s another person that’s staying and another area of the city that it’s branching out into."
The Finger Lakes Skateboard Club has held a number of public information sessions about their proposal. They intend to bring it to the Geneva City Council at the August 2nd.