On one of the coldest days of the year, with snow still on the ground following recent storms, local officials and community leaders unveiled a new $500,000 skate park in Mastic.
The park is named in honor of late Town of Brookhaven Councilman Keith Romaine, who represented the district and got the project started.
Romaine died in 2009 at the age of 36 from complications with pneumonia.
Located across the street from William Floyd High School, students from the school provided input on the park’s design.
Suffolk County Legis. Ed Romaine, Keith Romaine’s father, was on hand for the unveiling.
“This is a good day. This is something my son worked very hard on,” he said. “I’m very happy to see it. It will remind me of him every time I pass it.”
But Romaine said he was upset about a proposal to charge for park admission, which he said kids in the typically underserved area could not afford.
At a Dec. 21 town board meeting, the town parks department presented rates of $5 daily, $35 monthly and $275 annually for residents, and $10 daily, $70 monthly and $500 annually for non-residents.
Brookhaven Councilman Dan Panico, a friend and successor to Keith Romaine, voiced opposition to the fee structure at the meeting, and said at the park’s unveiling Friday -- which attracted more than 50 community members and students -- that he would fight against any fees. “At the most,” he said, he could see only a “nominal annual fee” to help offset the $25,000-$30,000 cost to staff the park.
For now, admission to the park is free.
Paul Breschard, mayor of the new Village of Mastic Beach, said volunteers from the village, which borders the school area, would be willing to upkeep and staff the park if an agreement with the town is reached.
The new facility includes Hubba ledges, China bank sections, rainbow rails, grind rails and other features, according to the town.
The park was paid for with a $250,000 Suffolk County grant, with the support of Legis. Kate Browning, who represents the area, and $250,000 from Brookhaven.
Other officials on hand included County Executive Steve Levy, state Sen. Lee Zeldin and Brookhaven Parks Commissioner Ed Morris.
Below: Town of Brookhaven Councilman Dan Panico speaks on the new skate park.