snow park ready for ... snow
By MORGAN MINCH
Democrat Staff Writer
DOVER ó Recreation
Superintendent Gary Bannon has a surprise Christmas present for the city
ó a new snow park.
Bannon kept the 400-foot
long sledding slope and new snowboard jump project hush-hush until Thursday
when he and volunteer Eben Dorr, 20, of Dover, hung signs at Garrison Hill
Park telling where each slope is accessed. Now all thatís left is for Mother
Nature to drop a blanket of snow so the public can take to its new playground.
But then, itís not
exactly new. Until about 30 years ago, there was a public ski slope at
Garrison Hill, and that is where Bannon and Dorr spent the fall chopping
down brush and trees, smoothing and building.
"People asked specifically
if we could reopen Garrison Hill," Bannon said. It was the sledders and
snowboarders who were most vocal with their requests. Many people have
asked, year after year, for a place where they could play such winter sports.
Until now, most had to find a hill on private property to use, Bannon said.
People even called
Mayor Wil Boc about it when he was running for office four years ago. But
it wasnít until just a few weeks ago that Bannon was able to tell Boc there
is now a place to swoosh down the snow.
Despite the fact that
there was a great interest in such a project, it never came about until
Dorr volunteered to help Bannon build the snow park.
"He offered to help,
go out and cut the trees," Bannon said. "And I had access to the equipment
The duo dedicated
about two days a week to the project beginning in October, ripping the
shrubbery out of the ground until there were two slopes. Then, they widened
each slope, added buffers on the sides to keep athletes in the center and
away from the surrounding woods, and areas at the bottoms to slow down
the sledders and snowboarders.
rip up tree stumps, flatten and shape the slopes. Each run is also covered
with wood chips to keep them from eroding until spring when the city can
Snowboarders can now
go to the top of Garrison Hill Park, jump off a slope and into a trail
with piles of dirt for jumps. The initial drop is pretty steep, Dorr said,
so itís probably not for people who have never snowboarded before; still,
itís basic enough for just about anyone with a little experience.
"Itís nothing significant,
but itís good to practice on," Dorr said.
In fact, he thinks
it will be a good place for younger kids to learn the popular X-sport,
and Dorr expects there will be plenty of snowboarders around to give a
little advice on how itís done. After all, as far as he knows, this is
the only public snowboard park around.
"No other town has
one, and itís good to have another thing for kids to get out and do," said
In a city that already
has a skateboard park and is working toward an ice rink, along with all
the other recreational activities offered, he believes the snow park will
complement all the other outdoor activities. A lot of the same people using
the skateboard park may be using the snow park, even though it is usually
a more expensive winter sport.
But snowboarding gets
expensive because private slopes can charge $50 a day ó on top of what
a board costs. A public slope will make that daily charge disappear.
"Kidsíll like it,
and they can get a good used board (at local ski shops) and try it out,"
Dorr said. "Itíll be a good time for sure."
The sledding slope
is accessed through the Old Rollinsford Road park entrance behind Wentworth-Douglass
Hospital. Thereís a path to the top of the slope ó which is actually to
the side and a little below the snowboarding slope.
The duo designed it to be slightly funnel shaped, a little higher on
the sides so sledders are less likely to get near the woods. There is also
a bowl and barrier at the bottom to catch the snow speeders at the end.