ROME, NY (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) — Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente announced the commitment of more American Rescue Plan Act funds on Friday, October 27. This time, the funds are going to a skate park in Rome to honor a Rome native.
Picente announced that $250,000 will be allocated to the SFM Skatepark Project, to build a skate park in honor of Stone Mercurio, an RFA graduate and Clarkson University student, at Bellamy Harbor Park. Mercurio was found dead near the University on Wednesday, April 19 after being reported missing the day before.
“The passing of Stone Mercurio was a tragedy felt not just in the City of Rome, but all throughout Oneida County,” Picente said in a statement. “Together with the Board of Legislators, we are proud to provide this funding to help keep his memory alive and greatly enhance the lives of those who share his passion for skateboarding. This skatepark will be a tremendous asset to community youth, giving them a productive place to spend their time and a safe environment to raise awareness of mental health.”
The goal of the SFM Skatepark Project is to build one of the largest skate plazas in New York State. The money allocated by Oneida County will go toward Phase One of the plan, also known as the “Street Phase.” Phase One is expected to begin in April of 2024 and last through the rest of the year, and — according to the project’s website — is split into two parts.
Phase 1a, expected to begin in April, will build an access road to accommodate watercraft, campers and trailers, along with hookups for RVs. The phase also includes expanded event parking, and improved lighting. Phase 1b, which is expected to begin in July, will include an area for food trucks, hydration stations, and an ADA-compliant playground.
Phase Two, also known as the “Flow Phase,” is expected to begin in May of 2025, will build the skate park proper. That part of the park is planned to include an over-450-foot paved bicycle track that would be one of the largest in the state. The park will also be able to support bikes, scooters, rollerblades and wheelchairs. Meanwhile, the civic plaza component of the “Flow Phase” will incorporate space for youth programming, live music and food trucks.
“We aren’t here just to build a skatepark, we are here to transform lives,” Mercurio’s father, Christian, said in a statement. “We are here because of the hard work and dedication of Stone’s friends and young people in our community who want to make a difference. Stone was such a positive force in so many lives, and his spirit will live on through this project and the generations of kids to come. I can’t begin to describe the depth of our gratitude to County Executive Picente and the Board of Legislators for helping us break the stigma of mental illness and raise awareness for suicide prevention by providing a safe, welcoming, accessible place for teenagers at such a tender, critical age.”
According to the project’s website, programming has already been planned for the park, including Learn-to-Skate events and a free lunch program during the summer. In all, the estimated cost for the park is expected to be almost $3.5 million.
The entire park is scheduled to be finished in the fall of 2025.
“The SFM Skatepark will not only be a skatepark, but a place where kids of all backgrounds can go to feel safe and have fun,” Oneida County Legislator Brenda McMonagle said in a statement. “When all phases are complete, this community hub will incorporate accessible features, partnerships to provide supportive services for teens and families, free skateboarding clinics and opportunities for all kinds of community-based programming. It will be able to be used year-round, for many years to come. I’m very proud to help secure county funding for this amazing project.”