Montclair soon to offer skateboarding lessons at Rand Park
Skateboarding lessons will soon be coming to Rand Park.
The Montclair Township Council earlier this month agreed to go out to bid for the skateboarding lessons; Councilman Peter Yacobellis had asked a vote be held at the governing body’s April 5 meeting so classes could start before the end of spring. The bid is expected to come in under $5,000, he said. Bids are due from interested vendors on May 5.
"We want to teach the kids to do it the safe way," Yacobellis told Montclair Local.
Montclair first opened its temporary skate park in two of the four tennis courts at Rand in the summer of 2020. This year, it’s being expanded into the two adjacent tennis courts — over the objections of some tennis players worried about losing the space — and skateable sculptures designed by Olmypian and X Games Medalist Alexis Sablone are being added to the facilities. The council has also directed its administration to work with nonprofit Skate Essex on financing and plans for a permanent skate park, considering sites including Rand.
The township offering lessons will also help with its liability insurance, Yacobellis said. The decision to expand into the two remaining tennis courts had been contingent on a favorable insurance review.
He said the township already has offerings for team sports, so individual sports like skateboarding should also get attention.
The idea of the lessons came from Evan Dittig, the 27-year-old founder of the Shred.Co skateboard instructional program, in discussions with township recreation director Michele Cammarata and Skate Essex, which supports local skateboarders’ activities, and has been lobbying and fundraising for a permanent park.
Dittig’s program offers skateboarding instructional programs through several municipalities and organizations, including the West Orange recreation department and the South Mountain YMCA. Though any vendor can apply for the open bid, the Shred.co website advertises it’s “currently working with the Montclair Recreation Department on a start date and pricing” for a program in Montclair.
Dittig already has his foot in the door in Montclair, where he has provided skateboarding lessons for second to sixth graders through an afterschool program at Edgemont Elementary School. This spring is the second season Dittig has held his program with the Montclair School District.
He said the lessons and the sport help kids get outside.
“It's good for them to get outside, instead of in front of a screen and away from video games," he said.
When the lessons will be held and the cost to participants have yet to be determined. But according to Dittig, the average cost is $25-$30 per lesson. Yacobellis said that the township would look into helping families that can not afford the lessons.
Dittig said Shred.co holds free clinics in Montclair and neighboring towns with the help of the Montclair High School Skate Club.
Jamie Siwinski, Montclair High School Skate Club adviser, said the lessons in the township will help increase interest in the sport and the skateboard park.
"From the past learn-to-skate events that have been held, we've seen more and more kids coming out to give it a try," Siwinski said. "So many kids are not interested in the competitive nature of other sports, but they see skateboarding in the Olympics and they want to pick up a board. Once they do, they are hooked."
Dittig started to skateboard when he was 11 years old.
"I wasn't into team sports and thought about skateboarding," Dittig said.
He added that when he began to skateboard he had to learn on his own, and said the lessons will help the kids guide themselves through the sport.