In a quest to offer more recreation opportunities for youth, city leaders are exploring the possibility of an outdoor skateboard park at the York Recreation Complex.
York City Council member Mike Fuesser, chairman of the council’s recreation committee, said committee members have been gathering information about the idea for a couple months.
“We just need to know what the overall interest is,” Fuesser said. “I believe there is an interest to have one, and I think it would be a good thing if we could find some grant money to finance this.”
Fuesser said the city tried a skateboard park many years ago in the City Park area, across from the PATH offices. “The plan to fund it and the interest never panned out,” he said.
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However, Fuesser said he believes the plan fizzled because the city planned to charge admission. “If we can get this going, it will be a free opportunity for anyone who wants to use it.”
The idea was suggested by York resident John Eakin, who criticized the city for putting up no skateboarding signs after youths began using the City Park area to skateboard.
“We don’t have a lot of recreation that isn’t organized, that a kid can go out and just do,” Eakin said. “And this is a sport that appeals to people of all ages. You can continue skateboarding into your 50s.”
Eakin said that if the city could get grants or donations to finance the park, it could bring tourism to the city. He said many skateboarders travel to enjoy the sport.
“It seems to be something they are really getting behind, as long as we can get the support of people who actually skateboard, or just people who believe we need more recreational opportunities,” Eakin said.
City Manager Charles Helms has been exploring the costs.
Liability is a concern. He said he was told by the city’s insurance carrier, the Municipal Association of South Carolina, that insurance for a skate park would run an extra $2,588 each year.
Helms said the association recommended that the park be unsupervised, with no equipment or ramps more than 4 feet high, and that no equipment should be donated.
He said the association also advised that ramps and equipment would need to be from a manufactured skate park company that would deliver, install and inspect the equipment, assuming some liability.
In addition, he said the association recommended that such a park be a smooth concrete surface, not asphalt, with a fence to secure the park after hours. According to the association, he said, it should not be lighted, and not be in a residential area.
Helms said the closest municipal skate park is owned by the city of Gaffney, which he said spent about $126,000 to install the park in 2009. Sumter also has an unsupervised skate park, Helms said.
Helms said city leaders want to find out how much interest there is in York for such a park. “It is expensive, and we want to see if there is interest out there for it,” he said.
Helms said skate park grants are available from groups that include the Tony Hawk organization. However, he said the Hawk grants come with numerous requirements.
Fuesser said committee leaders agreed that the York Recreation Complex would be a suitable location for a skate park, but that they would need to identify the best site there.
Fuesser said the recreation committee has invited skateboard enthusiasts to address members at 4:30 p.m. May 21 in the council chambers at York City Hall.
Jennifer Becknell • 803-329-4077