AUGUSTA — A fundraiser to expand the Augusta Skate Park and make it more welcoming to newcomers has raised $144,000 — almost $50,000 more than organizers had set as their goal.

Construction of the 2,700-square-foot expansion is set to take place this summer at the park dedicated to a late local skater known for making newcomers feel at ease.

It is something skater and Augusta native Chris Thompson, killed last year in an automobile accident, would have loved to see, according to both his mother and an organizer of the fundraiser.

“I think Chris would just be beside himself. I think he’d have been shocked at how many people got behind him, because that’s what this was all about,” said former professional skateboarder and current Augusta-area businessman Tobias Parkhurst, an organizer of the fundraiser. “Because we didn’t really make the case that we needed a bigger park. We made the case that our friend passed away and we want to memorialize him.

“It was amazing to me, and I think would be amazing to him, how many people he impacted. Chris was one of those kids who was going to do something. You knew that from just meeting him. And he didn’t get his opportunity to do that. In some ways, this is our time, our ability to do something that matters, because he didn’t get the chance to do as much as he was going to do.”

Thompson’s mother, Amanda, agreed with Parkhurst’s assessment that her son was going to do big things. And with the expansion of the Augusta Skate Park in his honor, he has played a role in having big things accomplished after his death.

She said he went out of his way to make people feel well, both with their skating and in their lives. She said he loved to help give children — and adults — confidence and see them grow and be successful.

“Everything that happened after his death proved the legacy he was building,” Amanda Thompson said. “I’m very proud to have raised somebody that was going to be big. He was definitely about bringing people together to be a bigger force. I think he’d be incredibly proud of everybody who stepped up for it. That’s the wind he was, one that gathers speed.”

The expansion of the concrete park at Williams Park, off Bangor Street, will add open space and lower obstacles, which Parkhurst said should address concerns that the park’s current offerings could be intimidating to new or less-experienced skaters. The expansion will be built in a flat area on the southern side of the existing park.

Evan Labbe performs a trick Wednesday at the Augusta Skate Park at Williams Park, off Bangor Street. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

The expansion still leaves plenty of open, grassy space at Williams Park, a city-owned multiuse park that also has basketball courts, a pool and playground equipment.

The city was not asked to make a financial contribution to the project.

Parkhurst, whose family and family business, O&P Glass, have contributed $75,000 to the fundraiser, said the fundraising efforts hit a bit of a lull at about $37,000, when the charitable organization Maine Community Foundation, through its Ollie Fund, offered a $37,000 matching grant.

The effort eventually climbed to $144,000, more than the original goal of $100,000, with several major donations, including $10,000 from Kennebec Savings Bank; $6,400 from community donors; $5,000 each from Pine State, Kennebec Valley Federal Credit Union and Central Maine Power Co.; $1,000 each from Performance Food Group, Augusta Fuel Co. and Alex and Kathi Wall; and $500 from Damon’s.

The fundraising effort included a GoFundMe page that brought in about $5,500, and sales of skateboard decks featuring the artwork of Thompson, who in addition to being an artist, also made and sold clothing of his own design.

Parkhurst said the 100 board decks made for the fundraiser sold out in 48 hours. He said many of those boards went to skaters who were affected by Thompson and his concern for them.

Bobby Cumler performs a trick Wednesday at the Augusta Skate Park at Williams Park, off Bangor Street. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

“I felt like there were a lot of kids that were really affected by Chris passing away,” Parkhurst said. “They needed to feel like he mattered to people other than them.

“It felt good to see the skateboarder community — that might be involved in their community, or not — grab ahold of this thing and pitch in and come to meetings, sell boards, buy boards and have hundreds of people donate.”

Parkhurst said contributors to the campaign also saw skateboarding as an activity that can be done safely during the COVID-19 pandemic, because it is an outdoor sport that can be done on one’s own.

He said the Augusta Skate Park has been around about 10 years, and kids who started skating there when it was built are now at points in their lives where they can make donations.

Parkhurst said the funding in excess of the original $100,000 goal should allow more space and obstacles to be added as part of the expansion.

Pivot Custom, a Missouri company with extensive experience building skate parks, and for whom Parkhurst has skated professionally in the past, will build the expansion, according to organizers.

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