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Mexico Skate Park Gets Assistance From Oswego’s Red Planet

Submitted Article

MEXICO, NY – A safe place for skateboarders to ride in Mexico recently opened, and has been a welcome addition to its community park.

The Mexico Skate Park, an outdoor skateboard facility, went from planning to reality in a relatively short time, with the assistance of Oswego skateboarder and Red Planet Skate and Bike Park owner Bruce Bailey.

Surrounded by skateboard and bicyclist enthusiasts at the newly constructed Mexico Skate Park recently are from left: Betty Green, Town of Mexico; Terry Grimshaw, Mayor of Mexico; Bruce Bailey, Skate Park Designer; Will Barclay, Assemblyman 124th District; and Susan Linerode, Mexico Village Trustee and Director of Recreation.
Surrounded by skateboard and bicyclist enthusiasts at the newly constructed Mexico Skate Park recently are from left: Betty Green, Town of Mexico; Terry Grimshaw, Mayor of Mexico; Bruce Bailey, Skate Park Designer; Will Barclay, Assemblyman 124th District; and Susan Linerode, Mexico Village Trustee and Director of Recreation.

“I was approached by a few community members in Mexico who had been bringing their kids here to Red Planet to skate,” he said. “They needed help with a design and some other technical assistance. Bringing safe skate parks to those who want to ride has always been my first priority so I was happy to help.”

Mexico trustee and the parks and recreation commissioner Susan Linerode saw the need for a park a year ago and began taking 30-35 skateboarders from Mexico on a bus trip to Oswego’s Red Planet each week.

She wanted to find out more about how to design and run a park so she could move forward with plans to build one in Mexico.

“When we started going to Red Planet, I don’t think Bruce knew we were there to see how things were done,” she said. “But he was a great resource anyway. He helped the kids and he was very excited that we had an interest. As the time went by I talked to him about a park in Mexico and he was quick to volunteer his time to help out. From there he was a natural choice to contract with to help design our park.”

Within a few months the park was designed, paid for and built.

“I think there were many of us who did nothing but fundraise, write grants and work on this park seven days a week, 24 hours a day for months,” Linerode said. “It was a lot of work but worth it. The park has brought a lot of people into Mexico from Buffalo, Binghamton, Canada and elsewhere and it just opened this past spring.”

Bailey has seen the same interest over the years at Red Planet.

“This is one of only a handful of indoor parks in upstate New York so we get a lot people coming here from out of town,” Bailey said. “Helping out with the park in Mexico was great. Skaters are part of their own community and now we promote each other’s events at both parks. It works out really well.”

Bailey started Red Planet out of his love and skill as a skateboarder.

He has been an avid skateboarder since the late 1980s.

A few years ago, he was living in Colorado when he learned that his hometown of Oswego had recently closed its only skate park.

“I grew up here without a place to skate,” he said. “I know what it’s like in the winter when there isn’t a place to ride and it’s when kids aren’t into something constructive and athletic, where trouble can start.”

Bailey decided to come back to Oswego and together with his brother Doug Rice, a corrections officer, opened Red Planet Skate and Bike Park.

Early on the indoor park was housed at several locations until landing next to the former Coleman’s site on West First Street in 2004.

“It has been a rollercoaster ride really,” Bailey said. “Working with landlords, government officials and the community has had its challenging moments. The project in Mexico was smooth by comparison. I think the word is getting out there that skateboarding is a positive activity.”

Oswego city council member and retired school teacher Constance Cosemento is hoping that the kind of action and teamwork that made the Mexico Park a fast success story will help Red Planet grow in Oswego.

“I was a teacher by profession so I have always been concerned for our younger generation,” Cosemento said. “There is a saying that goes ‘a city without a skateboard park is a skateboard park.’ It is time to address the need for including a larger facility and Bruce Bailey has the expertise to advise the city.”

Over the years, many communities across the country have continually prohibited skateboarding in many public areas without giving boarders an alternative and safe place to ride.

“Many people may think of skateboarding in terms of injury and danger, but among sports like football, baseball and skiing, skateboarding is actually statistically safer from an injury standpoint,” Bailey said. “It also gives local kids and other, older skaters a safe place to skate, hang out and talk to others with similar interests.”

As Red Planet began constructing indoor ramps, Bailey found that the kids were interested in helping out with the building.

“It didn’t happen overnight,” he said. “But once we taught some of the kids the difference between a wrench and a hammer, they really wanted to help out. They took ownership of their skate park.”

Oswego Health Emergency Department nurse Ellen LaFond has a son who has been skateboarder for many years and has been a supporter of the Red Planet.

“Parents especially are always looking for positive, healthy activities for their children, and skateboarding in a safe environment is an excellent opportunity,” LaFond said. “Skateboarding is good exercise and provides kids with a sense of belonging with other skateboarders.”

Providing a safe environment for kids has been a top priority for Bailey, who works as a software designer by day.

“We’ve really strived to create a positive environment,” Bailey said. “It’s a drug free zone and I don’t allow smoking on the grounds.”

Bailey continues to work at local central New York computer-based company CXtec. He has an associate’s degree in Television and Film Production, but was soon bitten by the computer bug and he quickly taught himself programming and web site design, a skill he has provided to several large companies around the country as both an employee and as a contract service provider.

Red Planet is his “labor of love,” a labor of love that he brings a wealth of experience to every day.

Bailey has skated around the country and knows some of the best locations.

He has taken family trips to simply find new skating locations and has brought what he has learned in those trips to his designs in Oswego and Mexico.

“The kids love the new park here in Mexico,” said Linerode. “Bringing Bruce Bailey in during the planning was a great asset to our success here in Mexico.”

The success of the Mexico park has given Bailey new hope for constructing a new park in Oswego.

As always, his goals are to provide the right environment for skating.

He said his biggest reward for committing his time to these local projects are not financial.

“It makes everything worthwhile when parents come to me and thank me for opening the park so they don’t have to worry about their kids hanging out riding downtown,” he said. “The fact that parents have the faith and trust to drop off their kids for a while is quite a reward. They know we work hard to provide a safe park, but a fun park that the kids want to come to and want to be involved in.”