Volunteers help make ‘Trail of Terror’ scary fun
Published: Wednesday, October 24, 2012, 8:56 p.m.
Updated: Wednesday, October 24, 2012
There are evil elves, a Victorian vampire and a barbaric butcher shop. Oh, yeah, a two-headed zombie baby doll, too.
Equal parts horrific and humorous, the Trail of Terror opened to travelers last weekend at Carnegie Park. The first-year haunted attraction is being used to raise money for Pitcher Park Memorial Skate Park.
“We did this in two weeks,” said Carnegie Councilwoman Sue Demko, who helped lead efforts to create the trail. “And with the help of so many people, it’s unbelievable. We’ve had at least 40 people helping us.”
The trail, which also includes a pumpkin patch geared for families near the stone shelter just off Forsythe Road, will be open two more nights: Friday and Saturday, from 7 to 11 p.m.. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for children.
Demko said the borough is raising $30,000 to $40,000 for the new skate park, with the non-profit Pitcher Park Memorial Foundation providing most of the funding for the estimated $600,000 venture.
“A lot of what we’re raising is going to go to security cameras and things like that, so it’ll be safe,” Demko said.
Mary Pitcher, who started the memorial foundation in honor of her sons Vincent and Stephen Pitcher — avid skateboarders who drowned in 2008 — sparked the idea for the trail in Carnegie Council. She also volunteered her time to get the event ready for Halloween.
“Mary Pitcher is just the most wonderful person,” Demko said. “Tireless, too.”
The result has transformed the pathway through Carnegie Park into a torch-lit track unrecognizable to residents after dark.
Buses take groups from the shelter to the top of the hill at the park, and from there, they embark a walking trip through tunnels, graveyards and even a maze.
Back at the shelter, things are little less frightening — especially for those interested in snacks. Hot dogs, hot chocolate, cookies, cupcakes, caramel apples and more are available, as are seasonal crafts, such as painted pumpkins.
References to the future of Carnegie Park are also there, with brand-new skateboard decks on sale. There also is a donation jar for the skate park and sign-up sheet for volunteers.
Demko said other unique fundraisers are planned, including a murder mystery dinner and a gun bash.
And even if Pitcher Park is already open by the time Halloween 2013 comes around, Carnegie Mayor Jack Kobistek is eager to see the Trail of Terror turn into a tradition.
“What I’m hoping is once we run it for the skate park, this is something other groups can take over,” he said.
Dan Stefano is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 412-388-5816.
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Community gathers to discuss skate park design plans
Published: Wednesday, October 24, 2012, 8:56 p.m.
Updated 3 hours ago
Mary Pitcher and Ken Schultz have known each other for years.
They finally met in person last Thursday evening.
The two sat casually next to each other at Cefalo’s Banquet & Event Center on Washington Avenue in Carnegie, where a meeting was held to discuss proposed design plans for a skate park to be built at Carnegie Park on Forsythe Road.
“We knew each other by talking to each other, but we had never met until tonight. That is just amazing to me,” said Pitcher, a Scott resident who in September chose Carnegie Park to be the site of Pitcher Park Memorial Skate Park.
Pitcher Park Memorial Skate Park will be built to honor Mary Pitcher’s sons, Vincent and Stephen, who drowned together while on a camping trip in 2008.
Pitcher calls Schultz “the angel that came into my life.”
“I think everything happens for a reason. And when I heard from (Schultz), there was a reason for that to happen,” Pitcher told the crowd at Cefalo’s.
Schultz, meanwhile, is a native of Bridgeville who now lives in San Diego, When he heard about the skate park through a friend, he did his own research.
“That’s when I found out what I wanted to (do). And I knew from looking at this I wanted to be involved,” Schultz, 43, said.
The 15,000-square-foot park will cost about $600,000. Schultz (or the Ken and Carol Schultz Foundation) has donated 85 percent of this, and Pitcher is hoping that a series of fundraisers will help to raise more money for the park.
Pitcher and Schultz were among the estimated 75 people who attended the meeting. This included Carnegie Mayor Jack Kobistek; council members Carol Covi and Susan Demko; real estate agent and California Avenue resident Jeff Stephan; and about 20 young people who might use the skate park, which will be built on the sloping hill in the park.
The meeting drew residents from as far away as Canonsburg and Dormont.
Earlier this year, officials in Dormont voted against the skate park being built there.
Also at last week’s meeting was Micah Shapiro, the lead designer for Grindline Skateparks Inc. of Seattle. Shapiro, 43, has been skateboarding since he was 16 and has designed more than 80 skate parks, he said.
“I can tell you that the goal is for this skate park in Carnegie is to be the best skate park in this area,” Shapiro said. “This is a pretty cool time to be a skateboarder right now. And this skate park will be designed to be the best in the area.”
The parameters of Pitcher Park Memorial Skate Park in Carnegie are coming into shape.
• Ground will be broken at Carnegie Park sometime in the spring.
• If the weather cooperates, the skate park should be ready to go by mid- to late-summer.
• Up to 40 people will be able to use the Pitcher Park skate park at one time, Shapiro said.
• Tony Hawk, a professional skateboarder, is donating several thousand dollars to the Pitcher Park Memorial Foundation and may attend the grand opening of the park, borough officials have said.
Carnegie officials plan to hold two more design meetings for the skate park. Any resident interested in the park can come to the meetings and offer ideas on the design.
The second meeting probably will take place next month, Kobistek said.
Jeff Widmer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5810 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Skatepark backers in Dormont to meet to discuss design
Thursday, May 12,
The park is planned for the site of the Banksville Road tennis courts, contingent on Mary Pitcher, a former resident who now lives in Scott, raising the $500,000 to $800,000 needed to build it. The park is to honor her sons, Vincent and Stephen Pitcher, who loved skateboarding and died drowning while on a camping trip in July 2008.
Grindline will be paid $40,000 for its design and construction drawings. Those funds will come from the Ken and Carol Schultz Foundation of Arizona, run by a former Bridgeville resident.
The government recently notified Pitcher that the skatepark project has been granted nonprofit status.
"This nonprofit status will allow us to receive foundation money and donations of material," Pitcher said.
She hopes to build the largest concrete skatepark in the Pittsburgh area at about 15,000 square feet. Council plans to move the tennis courts to Memorial Drive.
Pitcher said the meeting on May 26 is intended to elicit ideas, not to debate the project, which has drawn criticism.
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The Great Skate Debate continues in Dormont
FOR THE PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Two Dormont council members on Monday continued to insist that taxpayers do not want a skate park, even as a designer from a Seattle-based firm told about 50 people how he might build one.
While visiting the Pittsburgh area, Micah Shapiro, 41, of Grindline Skate Parks, did what he likes to do best: He skated.
Shapiro was invited to the area by former resident Mary Pitcher, who wants to build a skatepark in honor of her two sons, Vince, 21, and Stephen Pitcher, 19, who loved skateboarding and drowned during a camping trip in 2008.
Council, which voted 4-3 in April to allow Pitcher to use land at the Banksville Road tennis courts for the skatepark, permitted Shapiro to speak at a committee meeting at the recreation center. Still, council members Drew Lehman and John Maggio said taxpayers in Dormont oppose the skatepark.
Shapiro characterized his company as an industry leader that thinks outside the box when working with communities to develop an acceptable design.
"It's not complete, not perfect until we turn it over to you guys. Every one we build is different. It is custom-tailored to the environment," said Shapiro, who showed slides of parks the company has built, including ones in Grove City, Ohio, Tutalin Hills, Ore., and St. Helena, Calif.
"A park doesn't have to be a gray lump of concrete. They can be cool-looking things. ... We want to give communities the most bang for their bucks."
Shapiro said the dimensions of a skate park in Dormont would depend on what the community wanted and what the site could accommodate. He said it costs $35 per square foot to build a skatepark and if Dormont wanted one with 15,000 square feet, the cost would be $500,000 -- an amount Pitcher intends to raise through grants and fundraisers over a five-year period.
If the park is built, the tennis courts will be moved to Memorial Drive. Council expects Pitcher to have half of her fundraising guaranteed by summer 2013. At that point, there would be several months of design and community meetings.
A fundraiser picnic/concert is planned for July 12 at Dormont Park's main pavilion.
"Often, if they are opposed, it is because they don't know what a skateboard park is," Shapiro said after the meeting. "It is a fear of the unknown."
DORMONT COUNCIL: POOL OPENING A HIT, WITH JUST A FEW SCRAPES
FOR THE PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, June 3, 2010
The Dormont pool had one of its best Memorial Day weekends ever, officials said.
Volunteers added wireless Internet and music at the pool, and good weather helped produce a good turnout, Councilman Drew Lehman said at Monday's meeting.
But anti-skid material added to the slope on the shallow side of the pool during recent improvements caused some scrapes for children. Council members suggested posting signs asking waders to wear sandals.
Lehman was optimistic that, in time, water "will break the material down."
Also Monday, citing rising costs, council said it is considering increasing the fee charged residents and business for more than three false alarms a year at one location. The fee would be raised from $50 to $225.
Councilman John Maggio said he would ask next Monday to rescind a previous motion in April that designated land at the tennis courts on Banksville Road as a site for a skate park. Mary Pitcher, a former Dormont resident who now lives in Scott, first proposed building Pitcher Park last year to honor her two sons, Vince, 21, and Stephen Pitcher, 19, who loved skateboarding and drowned during a camping trip in 2008.
Pitcher is attempting to conduct fundraisers and could obtain grants to pay for the park's construction and maintenance.
Skatepark approval in Dormont creates discourse
FOR THE TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Buzz up! Dormont council -- in a contentious session this week -- narrowly approved using land at the Banksville Road tennis courts for a skatepark.
Heather Schmidt, Joan Hodson and council President Kim Lusardi and Vice President Laurie Malka voted for the measure. Drew Lehman, Eugene Barilla and John Maggio voted against it.
"The president and vice president have chosen to micromanage our town," Maggio said after the vote.
Former Dormont resident Mary Pitcher, now living in Scott, asked council to give her permission to use the land for Pitcher Park, so she could pursue grants and conduct fundraisers to cover the $500,000 to $800,000 cost to build a skatepark in memory of her deceased sons. Council's approval is contingent on Pitcher raising the money and building the park within the next five years.
"If a borough does not have a skatepark, then the borough itself becomes a skatepark," Malka said. "This is a good thing that will get kids off the streets."
Council eventually plans to move the tennis courts now on the site to Memorial Drive, where courts were located years ago. Schmidt said the borough hopes to secure grants to build the courts.
Council stipulated that Pitcher raise additional funds to maintain the skatepark, although the borough would own the park. It would include a dog park and a memorial wall so residents could remember loved ones by donating money.
Advantages of the Banksville Road location include its proximity to other recreational facilities and available parking, Pitcher said.
The park is intended to honor Pitcher's sons, Vince Pitcher, 21, and Stephen Pitcher, 19, who loved skateboarding. They drowned in 2008 during a camping trip.
Last fall, council rejected by a 5-2 vote Pitcher's proposal to build the park on Memorial Drive, but Pitcher revived her campaign, encouraged by changes to council following the November election.
Lehman objected to losing the current tennis courts. He said he received 13 e-mails opposing the skatepark and only one in favor. "And that resident doesn't live in Dormont," he said.
He doubts the park would ever be built. "If that happens, I will ride a donkey down West Liberty Avenue," he said.
Woman continues to pursue skatepark in Dormont to honor sons Buzz up!By Al Lowe, FOR THE TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, April 1, 2010
She asked council to vote on her request at next week's meeting although residents pleaded that council commission a feasibility study before doing so.
"I don't see that much support for it here," said Councilman Drew Lehman.
Pitcher, a former Dormont resident who now lives in Scott, first proposed building Pitcher Park last year to honor her two sons, Vince, 21, and Stephen Pitcher, 19, who loved skateboarding and drowned during a camping trip in 2008. She and others brought petitions with 1,200 signatures supporting Pitcher Park to council.
Council rejected the skate park in a 5-2 vote last year, but Pitcher is hopeful that the fall election which brought in new members and governing board might swing support her way. Kim Lusardi and Laurie Malka, who voted in favor of the skatepark last year, are now council's president and vice president. New member Heather Schmidt, who was absent Monday, is a supporter. New member Joan Hodson said she is willing to consider it.
"It doesn't hurt to look at every opportunity offered in Dormont," said Hodson, adding that she was dismayed some residents were "so closed-minded."
Pitcher said that if council would approve her using the land near Banksville Road, she could conduct fundraisers and pursue grants to cover the approximately $500,000 cost.
The skatepark would include a memorial wall so that residents could memorialize loved ones with donations to the park. She also is considering a dog park for the area; she said many residents indicated to her they want one.
Building the skatepark would require the borough to move the tennis courts, which are in need of repair. No money is available in this year's budget, Lusardi said.
Lehman said he didn't like losing a tennis court "that gets used every day."
Malka said the borough's insurance company confirmed that a skatepark wouldn't increase Dormont's premiums. "This would be just another activity in the park," she said.
Skatepark stigma: victim of a bum rap Photo Gallery
By Jessica Turnbull
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Mary Pitcher's intention was to dedicate the park in memory of her sons, Vincent, 21, and Stephen, 19, avid fans of extreme sports who drowned last year. She would have raised the $600,000 to $800,000 to build the park herself, though it would have been maintained by the borough on public land.
Pitcher said she is not giving up, but doesn't know what her next step is.
"My instinct and my heart are for the children of Dormont," she said. "That's where it's meant to be."
Findlay Manager Gary Klingman said litter has been the only thorn in his side at the heavily used skatepark there, monitored 24/7 by security cameras.
Klingman said more serious problems have been few, although about six children were banned from the park for fighting.
About six months after the park opened, residents at the closest home complained about noise when skaters were doing tricks on metal equipment. Township officials spent about $9,000 to install panels to lessen the noise, he said.
"It was a worthwhile investment. ... There's lots of participation that tells us we're getting our money's worth," Klingman said.
JoAnn Koffler, 62, of Imperial, said she probably would not have bought her house, located across a valley from the skatepark, if she had known about the noise and bright lights that would come with it. She closes the windows but can still hear loud booms coming from the ramps as the skateboards hit.
"I know the advantage to the kids outweighs my little complaint," she said.
Ryan Kelvington, 19, of Imperial, said the skateboarders that come to Findlay Park are like a family, a group of locals who come after school to ride.
"You get people who don't want to do regular sports," he said.
Kelvington, Josh Zawacki, 17, of Imperial and Dooie Kang, 17, of Oakdale rattled off a list of skateparks in the area that they've visited, ranking each one for safety and strictness of rules.
All three said they avoid Penn Hills X-treme Action Park, unless a competition is taking place, because of crime.
Chris Blackwell, Penn Hills principal planner, said the municipality has never received a formal complaint about the Penn Hills X-treme Sports Park, which can have about 100 users on a nice day.
The few instances of graffiti or dumped garbage cans have been blamed on nonskaters who come through at night, he said. He was saddened by the nature of the debate in Dormont because he thinks skateparks, and the issues associated with them, are misunderstood, Blackwell said.
"It's the most successful, well-received project I've ever been involved in, and I've been in planning for 20 years, " he said.
Andy Baechle, director of Allegheny County parks, said the county-owned skateparks in South Park and Boyce Park are so "outrageously successful" that he would love to build a third if funding became available.
"It's packed all the time," he said. "When there are a regular group of people who come on a regular basis, they have respect and take care of it themselves."
Brooms and garbage bags are kept stocked. Park officials have threatened to close the park for litter once or twice but never had to follow through, he said.
Mike Diehl, Cranberry director of parks and recreation, said AE Ride Skatepark there is a good outlet for skaters to stay out of parking lots and public streets.
The park, built in 2005, was placed at the former impound lot behind the Cranberry Municipal Center away from homes or businesses. It is close to the public safety office where police cars come and go all day, though there have been some incidents of graffiti and littering, he said.
"I have a sign that I have to pull out every once in a while that says 'Park closed due to litter,' " Diehl said. "I go out there and tell them I'm not their parent and this isn't their room at home."
Mother proposes skate park in Dormont as memorial to sons
By Jenny Paul
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
The mother of two brothers from Scott who drowned in the Allegheny Reservoir in July wants to build a skate park to memorialize her sons and give teens a place to bike, skate and Rollerblade. "I just want a safe place for kids to do what they want to do and be physical instead of playing Wii and Halo," said Mary Pitcher of Scott. "They need exercise to get their frustrations out."
Vincent Pitcher, 21, and Stephen Pitcher, 19, died July 15 after Stephen Pitcher jumped from the James Morrison bridge on Route 59 in Warren County. Vincent Pitcher swam from shore when he saw his younger brother struggling in the water, but both drowned. The brothers were on a weeklong outing with their father, John Pitcher, and family friends, Warren County Coroner Jerry Borden said after the incident.
Mary Pitcher said she decided to build a skate park in memory of her sons when she saw one of their childhood friends several days after the deaths. Vincent Pitcher was a BMX biker, and Stephen Pitcher was always skateboarding, she said.
About 100 of their friends and neighbors have pledged to help her construct the park, she said. "My heart is completely broken about my sons," Pitcher said. "Through this project, I hope that it helps everybody to get involved to ease the pain like it's helping me. It's overwhelming right now, but somehow it's helping me."
Pitcher wants to build the skate park in Dormont, where her sons grew up. She said Stephen Pitcher received "many, many" tickets for skateboarding in the parking lot of Dormont Elementary School and that teens in the area need a designated place where they can practice their tricks and work on skills.
Dormont Manager Warren Cecconi said Pitcher must submit a design before the borough can consider whether the park is feasible. The borough's recreation board and council must approve the design and the park, he said. "Before we can even take it to council, she'll need to get me a design of the size of the park, things like that," Cecconi said. Pitcher wants to build the park along Memorial Drive near Dormont Pool.
Brian Maitland, chair of the computer-aided drafting department at Pittsburgh Technical Institute, agreed to help design the park. Vincent Pitcher graduated from the institute in 2007. "When (Mary Pitcher) first approached us, it was an honor for us to help her out in this situation," Maitland said. "It was a yes. It wasn't even thinking about it -- it was just a yes." Maitland said he is researching skate parks in the area. Students who volunteer to work on the project will look at other parks and talk to skaters to create a design, he said. Maitland estimated that it would take six to nine months to finish the project drawings.
Jenny Paul can be reached at email@example.com.
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