The Utica Skate Plaza Planning Group is trying to ignite a change. They held a benefit tonight to raise money for a world class skate plaza they're trying to bring to Utica. Members say the current skate park is unsafe - and a new skate plaza will serve as a safe haven to skateboarders, but also to people around the community.
"Little kids are getting robbed and assaulted for no reason, just getting picked on," says Dominick Leon, area skateboarder.
"Friends have gotten hit in the head with skateboards, not even by people skateboarding, by other people," says Jesse Perrone, area skateboarder.
Over the last few years, area skateboarders say this has become the norm at the Utica Skate Park on Lincoln Avenue.
"A lot of kids don't want to go to the park anymore because of the problems they have down there," says Kevin Sullivan, event coordinator.
But some skateboarders and area businesses are taking action. They've formed the Utica Skate Plaza Planning Group. Tonight they held one of three benefits to raise money for their dream skate plaza.
"To me, it would mean everything, I mean skateboarding is everything to me and it would give a lot of opportunity for a lot more people," says Leon.
"better skate park that you have, your possibilities are endless," says Perrone.
Area skateboarders say the current skate park is filled with tons of potential danger. The new skate plaza would give them a place to feel safe, but more than that, a place to call a home.
"Definitely like a get-a-way and a home away from home," says Perrone.
"If we can bring a world class skate park to the area, it'll be a safer place for the kids, safe haven to do what they enjoy. It will also stimulate the economy because there will be a lot of people coming to use the park and spending money here in our city," says Sullivan.
The planning committee held a film screening of "On The Grind." Coordinators hope events like these will bring community members together.
"For the community, I think itll be a great thing, not just a plaza for us to skate in, you can bike, you can skooter, rollerblade, you can bring your kids there," says Leon.
"Skaters and business owners and all the people who wouldn't normally talk or have common ground can get together and see what the other has going on, a way to make people more aware of what's going on. There's a lot of amazing athletes down there doing really amazing things," says Sullivan.
The Utica Skate Plaza Planning Group will be holding their next benefit, The Utica Jam For Change, on August 18th. Coordinators say at this point, they're just waiting for the city's approval to take their next step.