Andover Community Skate Park - 1997
I can say with 100% certainty that I learned more on this job, than anything other project in my life.
In Andover, we always dreamed of how great it would be, to have our own place in the community, where we wouldn't get kicked out and didn't have to drive far to access it. My relationship with the Andover Youth Services, through starting the high school snowboard club, gave me access to the Director, Bill Fahey, who listened to our concerns, plotted a course of action and in doing so, changed the course of my life.
One year later, at the ripe old age of 19, I'm standing at the podium in front of the entire town, advocating for why a skateboard would be a benefit for our community. The vote passes almost unanimously and the next day Bill tells me, "You've got 200 grand to work with! Welcome to Project Management."
Shadowing Bill for years to come, I learned everything I would ever need to know about taking an idea, and bringing it into reality. From budgets and design, to suppliers and local politics, Bill offered guidance and support. I was as green as one can be in the world of construction, but this opportunity put drills and saws in my hands, and offered opportunities to understand that the business of Project Management, is the business of problem solving.
The greatest lesson I learned throughout the design, build, and management of the park was something Bill said once as we were leaving the hardware store and hopping in the giant AYS Econoline van. I forget how he phrased it, but the general idea was that a construction project was much like a chess board, with all the different pieces representing the people who factor into the project. All these people have different capabilities and different motivations, the more you understand, not only what they are able to contribute, but also what their motivation is, the better you can utilize their services and make them aware that you're goals just might align with each theirs in some way.
A few years later Bill and I received an award from the Governor of Massachusetts, for piloting a municipal project that paved a path for other towns to follow, which is still used today. The Andover Community Skate Park is going strong over two decades later and I love to think back to all the hours I spent, looking out my high school window, wondering if it ever could be possible.
Generations of life-long friendships have been fostered at the skatepark and there is no way to measure, or monetize, or really understand the positive impact that has on a community. But ask anyone in the town of Andover, what the Youth Services
I'll forever be thankful to Bill Fahey, Peg Campbell, and the Andover Youth Services, for taking kids ideas seriously, giving them a life jacket, and then throwing them into the deep end.
Do the world a favor, be like Bill Fahey, and build something this summer.