First published in the Carroll County Times Wednesday, May 19, 1999
Skateboard park rolling strong
By KEVIN GRIFFIS, Carroll County Times Staff Writer
By all accounts, Westminster's new skate park has been an overwhelming success, but city officials say they aren't surprised with the demand for the facility.
Skaters are roundly happy with the park, but many want to see its street course expanded.
``The skate park has been received extremely well; we're overly pleased,'' said Ronald J. Schroers, supervisor of Westminster's recreation office.
The park has already sold 40 season passes, good April through October, at $40 a pop and there's been no shortage of daily users who have to pay for a $5 one-day pass, Schroers said.
Westminster Mayor Kenneth A. Yowan joked that the city should franchise the parks.
``Every time I talked with a group of youngsters, whether it was a scout group, a church group or whatever, the subject of a skate park seemed to come up,'' Yowan said.
``Skateboarding is popular and it's not going away. Now youngsters have a place to go and skate without being hassled, a place where they also have to wear the proper safety attire.''
But don't expect to see the 56-year-old mayor on the halfpipe anytime soon.
``I tried it once, 10 or 20 years ago, for about five seconds, and managed somehow to get off without breaking my neck,'' Yowan joked.
Although it's only been open since Friday, some of the problems people predicted the park would have - fights and skaters using loud, abusive language - have not materialized, and Schroers said he doesn't think they will. Even though the skaters often have to wait quite a
while for their turn on the equipment, Schroers said there appears to be an understanding among the park's users.
``There's such camaraderie out there,'' he said. ``These kids have a code of ethics. Yes, they all have to wait, but they're working this thing together.''
Westminster Police Capt. Randy Barnes confirmed Schroers assessment. He said the department has been making patrol checks on the facility and no problems have been reported.
Westminster police headquarters is located less than a block away from the park, on Locust Street.
Early Tuesday afternoon there were already 10 skaters riding the park's halfpipe and small street course. The street course is made up of two mini-ramps and a short, flat obstacle skaters can jump and grind the bottom side of their boards on.
Jesse Peltzer, 17, was one of the best on the course. On one of the two small ramps, he could flip the skateboard underneath him while he turned in the air and find the board with his feet to stop the spin and ride back down the ramp in the opposite direction.
``Yeah, it's pretty rad,'' Peltzer said about the skate park.
It gets a little crowded at times with ``little kids'' just learning how to skate, Peltzer said, but on Tuesday everyone waited politely for their turn.
Michael Cassell, 15, who arrived at the park with Peltzer, said he believes one of the ideas of the people who built the park was to keep people from skating on the streets, but there really isn't enough equipment on the street course to keep everyone off the streets.
To that end, Schroers said there is room at the park to add some equipment, and the street department can make up some ``commercial grade'' obstacles, like grindrails, for the kids to use.
If the interest warrants it, the park can also expand its fenced-in borders, he said.
Yowan said that probably won't happen this year, but the city will monitor activity at the park and, as with any recreational area, decide if the facility should be expanded.
Schroers said the fees have offset the cost of keeping a monitor at the park and said he's already improved the park to keep up with requests from skaters. He added a portable toilet, and on Tuesday he said he was going to have a soda machine installed.
Schroers also issues free passes to parents when their children buy a season ticket.
``I want to keep the parents involved so they can help monitor the park,'' Schroers said.
Right now, he has staffed the skate park with a full-time attendant, but he said during the summer, the facility will be staffed part-time and the attendant will split his time between the city playground and the skate park.
There have been a few injuries, Schroers said, but nothing much different than can be found at any other city recreational facility.
The park is insured by the city's insurance company, LEGIT.
Westminster Dept Recreation and Parks, Westminster Recreation and Parks Skateboard Park, People Natl Internatl Griffis – Kevin Griffis, Media journalists Griffis – see People Natl Internatl Griffis – Kevin Griffis