NORTH ADAMS — What started as a quarter-pipe dream more than five years ago will soon be reality.
The culmination of years of efforts by community advocates and city officials, construction on a new skate park on State Street is already well underway and should be complete by the end of June.
The city held a groundbreaking ceremony at the site, nestled between Noel Field and the Hot Dog Ranch on State Street, on Friday afternoon.
The $676,000 project was spearheaded by the city's office of community development and by the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition's UNITY youth development program.
In surveys of local high school students when the park was still only a consideration, community leaders found strong support for a skate park — even among students who don't skate themselves.
"Teenagers get shooed out of so many places, and they said `We want a place where we're allowed to be and expected to be and nobody is going to tell us to move, and our presence is valued,' " said Kate Merrigan, the former UNITY program coordinator and current North Adams city councilor.
Adam Tobin, a former UNITY program associate, acknowledged that it was tough to get the community behind the project, and some still are not supportive.
"Our argument was listed: there's a lot of kids in this town that want to do recreational activities that aren't football or baseball," Tobin said.
Skateboard is a creative sport, he said, and it benefits the community to have young people being "productive in a positive way."
"It's not like this back-alley, drug-ridden sport that a lot of people think it is," Tobin said.
Mace Donahue, an Adams resident, skateboards regularly and looks forward to making the short trip to North Adams to use the skate park.
"I just noticed the blueprints here and I thought `Yeah, this will be cool,' " Donahue said.
The park was funded 70 percent through a $400,000 grant from the Massachusetts Parklands Acquisitions and Recreations for Communities (PARC) program. The rest was matched through the city's Community Development Block Grant funding, which it receives annually from the federal government.
"This project is fully funded through both state and federal resources," Alcombright said.
The parcel on State Street was formerly the site of Modern Liquors, but the building was purchased by Porches Inn owner Jack Wadsworth in 2015 and donated to the city for use as the skate park.
"Obviously it's just ideal within this recreational site, and it had the proper amount of space," Alcombright said.
The skate park is just one facet of what officials hope will be a multi-pronged development of a community park in the area.
It applied for a second PARC grant to install a splash court just east of the skate park, as well as renovate the nearby basketball courts. Although it failed to win funding this round, officials plan to reapply and remain hopeful that the city will win funding to expand on the park.
"The idea of this is to create more of a family park within the park," Alcombright said.
Reach staff writer Adam Shanks at 413-496-6376 or @EagleAdamShanks on Twitter.