Skateboard enthusiasts offer suggestions for skatepark

August 27, 2004|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Area skateboarders on Thursday told Washington Township officials how they thought a skateboard park should be built in the township's Pine Hill Recreational Area.

The Township Supervisors earlier this month announced that an anonymous local couple offered to donate $25,000 to build a facility for use by skateboarders and rollerbladers.

Such a park is in the master plan for the 174-acre recreational area off Mentzer Gap Road.

Gerald Zeigler, code enforcement officer, said the park would be a concrete pad measuring 80 feet by 120 feet. The township is asking potential users to say how it should be equipped.


Township Manager Michael Christopher on Thursday cautioned the 12 skateboarders, who ranged in age from early teens to late 20s, that the township's insurance company wants any equipment to be bought from a manufacturer rather than have amateurs build it on site.

That way, any lawsuits stemming from injuries would name the manufacturer as a defendant as well as the township and thereby spread the liability, he said.

"If we just make up stuff and put it there we could be liable," he said. "If a child breaks an arm, the parents are going to be looking to us."

Mark Nickels, 28, of Waynesboro, who calls himself a professional skateboarder, said users would find little challenge in the park if the township buys the equipment. Those who use the equipment should design it, he said.

Nickels and Dan Ringenary, 21, of Waynesboro, urged Christopher and Zeigler to fashion the park after one in Frederick, Md., in which the equipment was made, not bought.

Nickels lobbied for a concrete base rather than asphalt, which can soften in the hot sun. "Kids want to feel that they're on the streets. Build it more street-wise so kids can do their own thing."

Equipment would include steps, an iron rail to slide or "grind" down, and ramps and blocks for skateboarders and rollerbladers to do tricks.

Wooden picnic tables, when available, often serve as platforms for tricks, Nickels said.

Zeigler said equipment at the park would not exceed 6 feet in height.

Two mothers in the audience, Theresa Shank and Amy Yokum, said they supported the idea of a skateboard and rollerblade park. Shank said her son skateboards on the wooden deck of their home and "in other undisclosed places."

Skateboarder and rollerbladers often ply their skills on any surface available, including parking lots, anywhere there are adequate concrete steps and on public sidewalks. They are often told to move on by owners and authorities.

Zeigler said the park could open next summer.

Christopher said township officials would visit the skateboard park in Frederick to get ideas.

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