LEWISTON – The latest designs for a downtown skate park have plenty of thrills and spills – and an awesome place for spectators, say backers of the project.

“It couldn’t have turned out like this anywhere else in town,” said Mike Grimmer of the Skate Lewiston-Auburn Movement.

City crews are working on the site along the eastern edge of Kennedy Park, removing the old concrete retaining wall around the courts and tearing up the asphalt.

Work should begin between May 8 and 15 and be finished by Labor Day. Members of SLAM – area business owners, skaters and their parents – have raised $200,000 to pay for the work.

The group began raising money in 2004, with city councilors agreeing to put it in Kennedy Park. First, they planned to put it directly across from Lewiston City Hall, but officials decided in November 2005 that it made more sense to move the park’s basketball courts and put the skaters there.

“Now, it actually works with the grade,” Grimmer said. The ramps and jumps will be built into Kennedy Park’s natural slope. That lets the city put a viewing area on the northern edge, about 10 feet above the top of the deepest bowl.

“And then, the bowl drops off another 8 feet, so people will be able to look straight down, almost 20 feet, to watch these kids do these jumps,” Grimmer said.

SLAM member Pat Butler said the group hopes to invite professional skateboarders to the park for a September grand opening.

“This is going to be a very big deal, maybe the best skate park in New England, when we get finished,” Butler said.

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