Dover Parks & Rec director shares skate news, other updates

By Mike Finney
Posted 2/22/24

Big things are in the works this spring and summer for fans of outdoor activity.

Robin Eaton, director of Dover Parks & Recreation, touched on several of his department’s ongoing projects and their timelines at the Council Committee of the Whole meeting at City Hall this week.

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Dover Parks & Rec director shares skate news, other updates


DOVER — Big things are in the works this spring and summer for fans of outdoor activity.

Robin Eaton, director of Dover Parks & Recreation, touched on several of his department’s ongoing projects and their timelines at the Council Committee of the Whole meeting at City Hall last week.

At long last, he said, a much anticipated do-it-yourself skateboard park is expected to open at Schutte Park early this spring. It’s described as a spot where skaters can do their own tricks among various small structures and does not include large bowls.

“When we get a little bit of a break in the weather, (workers) will be asking for concrete,” Mr. Eaton said. “It’s all formed. Everything’s there. The bones to the structures are in place, so if you ride out there, you can see that. It’s just a matter of getting concrete and getting everything poured.

“If we’re good weather-wise, in the early spring, we should have some skateboarders out there at Schutte Park.”

The DIY skate park is adjacent to the dog park and is being built close to the site of a larger project the city plans to build next year, which will include a bowl and a streetscape for skaters. The two areas will be connected by a pump track, a circular loop of rollers and berms that, when ridden correctly, requires no pedaling or pushing.

“So, we’ll have just about every component of a skate park — the DIY, a pump track, a bowl and a streetscape — and that’s in next year’s budget,” he said. “We’ll be going after some funds (from the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control).

“Our pre-applications will be coming up here in the next few months, so, if we get an award for that in the summertime or so, those funds could come to us in January (2025), which we would be prepared to start the project sometime after that, (and it) would be a 50% match project.”

Dover Park additions on way

Mr. Eaton also provided an update about improvements underway at Dover Park, which include the addition of a recreation building, a spray pad and a Can-Do Playground.

“There are a couple of minor things to work out,” he said. “Some things with the spray pad have changed from the manufacturer from the time the project was designed.

“We’ve started construction on the project, so we’ve got to get past some of those small hurdles, which are mostly elevation issues based on the new (water) tank being in the ground and where it needs to go.”

Staffers were out Thursday working on the Dover Park recreation facility, which will be able to host community gatherings.

“The roof is going on currently, and the masons are mobilizing (this week) to put the stone veneer block all the way around the building, as well,” said Mr. Eaton. “It’s been good progress, and by the end of (this week), it could be a closed-in building.”

Adjacent to that construction are four storage containers full of accessible playground equipment.

Mr. Eaton said he has met with a contractor who will have all the play equipment installed in the early spring. He then plans to work with Kent Construction to do the site work for the sidewalks and curbing around the playground.

“My initial target date (for the spray pad and playground) was somewhere around the end of May,” he said. “We’re close to that, but we want to get it done by the end of June, so it stays in this year’s budget.”

Bark at the park

There are a few tweaks that are continuing to be made to the Dover Dog Park at Schutte Park after it opened last summer.

Parks & Recreation will be getting water to the site this spring and will continue to plant trees for shade.

Mr. Eaton added that his staff has had some interest in monetary donations for a few more shade structures, as well.

Hoping to pack Pitts Center

Mr. Eaton said he is trying to increase attendance at the John W. Pitts Recreation Center at Schutte Park in the late-morning and early-afternoon hours, which is typically a slow time for the facility.

“We just brought in a 40-and-over double Dutch jump-roping group to our multipurpose room at the Pitts Center,” he said. “They will probably be our first occupant in the Dover Park building (when it opens).

“It’s going to be a little tight for them in the meantime, but the Dover Park building is double the size of the room they’re using now.”

He added that the program started about three weeks ago, and 40 women showed up to participate.

The department also hopes to increase use of the Pitts Center during the day by offering boccie ball and collaborating with day cares and mothers’ groups on Wednesdays and Fridays.

It was all exciting news for City Councilman David Anderson.

“I wanted to thank your staff because you just have a tremendous and dedicated staff, and if you could pass on our gratitude to them for their hard work,” he said. “I think you’re one of the best things that has happened to our Parks & Recreation program in many years.”

Park potpourri

Mr. Eaton also added that the Dover Duathlon, which had almost 100 participants last year, will be returning April 20. Registration will open April 2.

“Our goal this year is for 200 participants, so, if you’re not doing anything that day, and you want to do a little walking, running and biking, come on out and register.”

Additionally, Mr. Eaton said his grounds staff is preparing for spring with a pair of electric mowers — one sit-down, one stand-on — garnered via grant funding. They also have received a Ford Lightning electric truck.

“Come spring, you’ll have a unit mowing in the city of Dover that is entirely electric, from the truck pulling the trailer to the two mowers to the hand tools for weed eating and blowing and stuff,” he said.

“The two guys running those mowers at the end of the year loved them. They were skeptical at first, but they did like them. They’re a lot quieter and pretty simple to operate.”

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