MEREDITH — Brendan Hart said he was hoping to raise as much as $10,000 through the pop-up mini golf course that the Friends of Meredith Parks and Recreation set up at Hesky Park on Saturday. Instead, the lakeside event, named “Skate Birdie,” collected $13,000, despite being bookended by surprise rain showers.
“It was great. It was a ton of fun, and we raised more money than we hoped to,” Hart said Tuesday.
The money will be added to other donations collected this summer, part of an effort to meet a $25,000 matching challenge from the Steinwachs family.
If they can meet that challenge — which Hart suspects they’re very close to doing — it will put the nonprofit group up to its $230,000 goal, enough to build a new concrete skatepark in Meredith, which will replace the aged plywood structures that have reached the end of their serviceable life.
Hart said a construction firm is ready to begin work in the spring, and the organization is already working with the town to get all of the necessary permits in place.
The one-day minigolf course in Heskey Park was provided by Leaderboard of Boston, which Hart said provided the 19 holes at a considerable discount. Many local companies stepped up as hole sponsors, helping to ensure a baseline of funding in case the weather turned on the event.
It looked as if that might just happen, Hart said. The event opened at 11 a.m.
“The weather did affect us. Right when we set up, we had a brief rain shower. That was stressful,” he said. They were worried that it would keep golfers away. “But we had a window of sunny weather,” he said.
More rain arrived at 6 p.m., and it looked as if it wouldn’t be as brief, so they packed up the course an hour early.
Still, the event was a success, he said.
“I was expecting to raise $10,000. I was surprised at the generosity of the people who came down and turned out,” he said.
Many people contributed more than the $10-per-golfer requested donation, he added.
Perhaps he shouldn’t have been surprised by that. The community support for a new Hart Family Memorial Skatepark has been enthusiastic, exemplified by the action of voters at the Meredith Town Meeting last winter. The Friends of the Meredith Skatepark requested town support of the project to the tune of $25,000. Instead, voters amended the request to be double that amount.
Help has come from afar, too. A video of Hart playing his harmonica while riding a skateboard won him a grant from the German instrument manufacturer Hoehner, and the Tony Hawk Foundation gave $25,000 to the project — reportedly more than they’ve awarded elsewhere.
Hart has been championing the renewal of the town’s skatepark for years. It’s a deeply personal mission: The current park is named after his father, Glenn, who died in 1998, leaving behind a wife and three young boys.
The park was dedicated to Glenn Hart in 2003, but the painted plywood features have become so weathered that, last year, the park stayed closed due to safety concerns.
By that point, Hart and a committee of others had already begun to plan for a replacement. Hart’s mother, Linda Hart-Buuck, was the driving force for that effort, especially after Brendan left for France to attend university. Then, in January, the Hart family was dealt a second tragedy, when Hart-Buuck died unexpectedly.
Many at the Town Meeting spoke of Brendan’s parents and their contributions to the community. The town’s generosity toward the creation of the Hart Family Memorial Skatepark is, no doubt, a tribute to Glenn’s and Linda’s memories.
The plans were originally for a simple concrete bowl, something they thought would be an achievable goal. Soon, though, they realized that they could achieve something larger. The new plans call for multiple features, all concrete-made, which will stand the test of time.
“Things have really evolved toward the end of the project,” Hart said. “We have a lot of volunteers, there’s a ton of people reaching out to help. It’s made things easier having this big team.”