The Student News Site of Utica University

The Tangerine

The Student News Site of Utica University

The Tangerine

The Student News Site of Utica University

The Tangerine

Stone Mercurio tribute skatepark comes closer to fruition in Rome

A sketched design of the SFM Skatepark when completed.
Isabella Yaghy
A sketched design of the SFM Skatepark when completed.

The City of Rome banded together to raise more than $400,000 to help build a skatepark in memory of Stone Mercurio, whose sudden death last spring at age 18 devastated the community. 

Within a month after Stone’s death, his parents Chris and Andrea Mercurio, and sister Carmella Mercurio, wanted to raise suicide awareness and started to plan the SFM Skatepark Project in Bellamy Harbor Park. The goal is to honor Stone’s adventurous nature –  and “nothing boring” mantra – by creating a destination skatepark that offers various recreational opportunities for all ages and abilities.

The main skate area will support skateboards, bikes, scooters, rollerblades and wheelchairs, and feature one of the largest paved pump tracks in New York state. The project will also enhance the park’s civic plaza by incorporating space for youth programming, live music and food trucks, according to the Oneida County website

The Oneida County Board of Legislators on Oct. 11 approved $250,000 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding for the skatepark, helping to reach the $400,000 mark. The city of Rome also applied for $800,000 in additional funding from the New York Department of State and the New York State Canal Corporation. 

Jake DiBari, a fundraising volunteer and advocate for the SFM Skatepark Project, said those funds would nearly fulfill the $1.4 million fundraising goal.

“These are two separate departments within the state that fund a range of community projects,” DiBari said. “We are hopeful that the state will deem our project worthy and award us the full $800,000 or part of that. The funding is detrimental to the project.”

Several Rome businesses are supporting the project, including Crust Kitchen and Bar by giving patrons the option to round up their change as a donation. Copper City Brewery donates all proceeds from a certain beer to the project. 

In addition to small business contributions, SFM Skatepark Project volunteers have also organized successful fundraising events.

One of Stone’s best friends, a Utica University student who asked to remain anonymous, said merchandise sales have been significant at fundraising events.

“[When] you walk around Rome, a lot of people have merchandise, so it’s been a big chunk of money,” the friend said.

There are two phases associated with the construction of the skatepark. 

DiBari said that phase one, breaking ground and pouring the concrete foundation, is projected to begin in late 2024 or early 2025. 

“The hope is to build a plaza with stairs and rails and a large pump track around the perimeter of the skatepark,” DiBari said. “Phase two would be the larger phase and fill in the area within the pump track. The entire project is 30,000 square feet, and would be one of the largest skateparks in the northeast.”

Brenda McMonagle, Oneida County legislator and the mother of one of Stone’s best friends said one of the skatepark’s goals is to be a hub for community outreach.

“The park is being built in an underprivileged area where there are kids looking for a place to go,” McMonagle said. “This will be that safe place…There are plans to partner with the school district for free lunches in the summer and with other local organizations to provide mental health counseling and family wrap-around services.”

McMonagle provided an expansive description of the diverse recreational pathways being built into the SFM Skatepark.

“The park will offer skating and biking and be accessible to scooters, not only for kids but folks of all ages,” McMonagle said. “It will have ADA equipment and a splash pad, it will allow for music, art and food trucks to be a part of the experience.”

Stone’s friend said suicide awareness is the driving reason behind this project, and he doesn’t want that to be forgotten. 

“The fact that we’ve made this much progress in such little time – a city of roughly 30,000, with help from people elsewhere, but mostly Rome – is a testament to how we held Stone and the kind of person he was,” he said. “Losing him in our lives has killed us, it’s a distraction but it’s a good distraction. We’re doing this for Stone.”

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