Memo Foundation skate bowl breaks ground at Keyes

MILFORD – The “Memo” foundation, named in memory of Brandon “Memo” Kluz, recently reached a financial goal of $85,000.

Brandon’s mother, Monica Kluz said they broke ground on the “Memo Bowl” project at Keyes Field Skate park on Nov. 27 after a rough spell at the onset of the pandemic.

“Our fundraising efforts got off to a very slow start this spring due to the pandemic,” she said. “So we decided to focus our energy on helping the community and giving back.”

In early spring when COVID-19 first struck and personal protective equipment (PPE) was scarce, the Memo Foundation donated their inventory of bandanas to the Lahey Hospital.

“We provided ‘goodie’ gift bags to four local healthcare facilities in recognition of their hard work and efforts during the pandemic,” Kluz said.

“The Memo Foundation organized two major cleanup efforts, one along North River Road and the other at the Purgatory Falls Lower Trail.”

With support from the Shaw’s of Peterborough and Milford, and Market Basket of Milford, the organization provided free water to the folks at the skate park during the hot summer months as a way to give back to a community, “that has been so supportive to us.”

“Amid the challenges of social distancing, we were able to hold three fundraising events this year which generated over $11,000 to our cause,” Kluz continued. “The Memo Foundation has raised $85,000 towards our goal of $130,000 through merchandise sales, fundraisers and donations.”

The bowl feature is estimated to cost $85,000 but Kluz said they’re hoping with in-kind donations and the support of local businesses that they can reduce that figure.

Brandon’s best friend Derek Mossey said that creating a skate bowl at the park has been in the works for a while.

“We hired Artisan Skateparks out of North Carolina to build the bowl,” he said. “I’ve been working with them four about two years. They build parks all over the country.”

Local projects that Artisan designed include skateparks in Nashua and Amesbury, Massachusetts. Mossey said that Artisan works nationally as well.

“They had a job in Montana and one in Colorado,” he said. “They get around. And they’re one of the top skatepark firms in the United States.”

The original plans for the Keyes skate park project were estimated at $120,000 and the project went through a few different phases of redesigns, partly to fit the budget and but more importantly, meet the needs of the community.

“I think there are certain things that people were expecting out of this project,” Mossey said. “There are all kind of features that can be built, like street features and vertical features and we were trying to find a middle ground. So what we thought was a better answer was to take our existing ramps and build on top of them. Not only do we get more for our money but we’re eliminating ramps that are 20 years old.”

Mossey stated that the “half pipe” feature was in disrepair and was unskatable so creating a new design while correcting or repairing old features seemed like a logical approach.

“We tried to fix the ‘half pipe’ last year with some thin concrete but it’s really a Band-Aid,” he said. “We put a lot of Band-Aids on the park. We replaced a couple of rails. But that feature was dead to us. And now we’re able to open up a quarter of the skate park again. So it’s a win-win.”

With help from Artisan and the support of residents such as Stephen Gaspar, Steve Desmarais

Roger Coombs and Kent Sheldon, as well as the Milford Lions Club, Mossey said that asphalt was torn up and prepped the park for Artisan to weave its magic.

“What they did is huge,” he said. “Renting and manning an excavator for the day and having the expertise is incredible. Honestly, we’ve been leaning on these folks all this time. The community has been helping us out with their connections. We’re really grateful for that.”

The new number that the Memo foundation signed the contract for is $85K, a turnkey operation for building the bowl.

“We have been working with a lot of other local companies,” Mossey said. “Leighton White has been helping us. And obviously we have the support of everyone who has done fundraisers for us. Union Coffee, Grill 603, everyone has been so helpful in hosting us and donating to us just stuff for raffles. And we’ve been working with the Milford Lions which is huge.”

With COVID-19, the foundation was sitting at $50,000 and pivoted their fundraising efforts to virtual events. The Memo Foundation recently initiated a website where people can buy merchandise with proceeds going to the organization’s fundraising efforts. (Thememofoundation.org.)

“We also tried to do a couple of online skating competitions where skaters skated from home,” Mossey said.

And while the community was hunkering down during the pandemic, many people made contributions to the Memo fund in light of the shutdown.

“A lot of people have donated to our cause this year,” Mossey said. “I know it’s been hard. And as much as we have all been apart, I think this cause has brought us together. We value our time that we get to spend together a little more.”

Mossey added that the foundation’s virtual events raised $15,000 this year alone.

“We did host an in-person car show,” he said. “Those have been going around the state for a while. I think that was one of the first the first things that Sununu opened up. We had one a year ago and it was very popular. Brandon loved cars. He had a Volkswagon that he fixed up. Kind of. But it was cool.”

Mossey pointed out that they’re well liked in the community, and “not just skateboarders.”

“There are a lot of people that Brandon touched in his life,” he said.