There is no skate park in Moore County. Can Whispering Pines lead the way? | New

In what could be a landmark decision for local skateboarders, a makeshift skate park at Whispering Pines may soon become official village outfit.

Skateboarders have spent the past few months putting together a makeshift park on concrete slabs behind the village town hall, bringing boxes of grind, quarterpipe ramps and other handmade obstacles to the site. Village leaders are now considering a proposal that would make the park the first municipal skateboarding facility in Moore County history.

“Some locals took it upon themselves to take advantage of a flat area where there was no vehicular traffic, and a lot of people appreciated it,” said Rich Lambdin, village director, at the meeting. Tuesday tip. “As far as I’m concerned, if we could look back and see a whole bunch of kids using skateboards and scooters, I knew they weren’t anywhere else doing something we wouldn’t want to. not that they do. “

In researching the feasibility of a village-run skate park, Lambdin found a general statute for North Carolina that “addresses and encourages local governments to create and implement these types of facilities,” he said. -he declares.

Any state municipality that wishes to establish an unsupervised skate park must first approve an ordinance that “incorporates the rules and regulations for how the park will be used,” according to Lambdin. To further mitigate liability, he said, a municipality should put up signs displaying the rules and require park users to sign waivers of compensation.

“If we do all of the things that are in the general statute – implement an ordinance, post signage as required – then the general statute makes our government municipality, as well as our employees and agents, not responsible for people who could potentially be injured while enjoying this activity, ”Lambdin said, adding that the village“ follows state law as to how to proceed ”.

Whispering Pines is insured by the League of North Carolina Municipalities, which Lambdin says would charge an annual premium of just $ 317 to cover a small skate park. This increase would be a “drop in the bucket” compared to the overall cost of insuring the village, he said.

Helmets and safety pads would be required in the park under the proposed ordinance, and use of the facility would be limited to residents of Whispering Pines. Lambdin said the village could charge a $ 5 fee to offset the cost of processing applications and to print stickers that riders could put on their decks or helmets showing they are allowed to use the park.

“Anyone using the facility will need to show the sticker, which proves that you have signed the agreement acknowledging the risks and that you are a resident of the village,” Lambdin said. “This is how this skate park came to council.”

Referring to skateboarding Olympic debut at the Tokyo Games last summer, Lambdin said the facility was not “designed to be a full-fledged skate park or the trials for future Olympians.” Under the proposed ordinance, obstacles on the site cannot exceed 3 feet and users would be prohibited from bringing their own obstacles.

“It’s not a platform for us to build an Olympic-sized skateboard park,” Lambdin said. “It’s a conversation for a day later at another time.”

Delayed action

Several residents expressed support for the proposed order in an informal public hearing on Tuesday.

Pat Stitch, who lives on Pine Ridge Drive with his wife and two young daughters, told council he has seen his daughters “grow physically and emotionally (…) through access” to the ad hoc park . Sarah Frye, who moved to Spearhead Drive with her four sons in May, said the park was “fantastic” and “it would be a shame Whispering Pines lost it”.

Jack Kelley at the Whispering Pines skate park on November 13, 2021.

Addressing the large audience of skate park supporters gathered at the village hall, outgoing city councilor Bob Zschoche said Whispering Pines had “not seen so much interest in a sporting activity” for over a decade . He and Mayor Alexa Roberts both voted to pass the ordinance presented by Lambdin, but they were overturned by council members Andy Conway, Glenn Bernhard and Pamela Harris, who all voted to postpone the discussion.

The “strangers” are already congregating in the park, according to Harris. She said she spoke to “eight or nine skaters” at the site on Saturday, only one of whom lived in Whispering Pines.

“Do you know what made me go down there to want to talk to them?” Not a single one of them had a helmet, knee or elbow pads. Not a single person skating there. she said. “And we expect them to do it on their own?” “

She added: “Believe it or not, I was really angry as a mom who was really excited about the skate park because I wish he was there for my son at the time. was like, ‘these kids are messing it up right off the bat.’ They want me to vote for this and not a single one of them bother to put on a helmet? ”

Despite Lambdin’s assurances, Bernhard said the park exposes the village to “high liability risk”.

“I think we’ve been very lucky so far that we haven’t (had) any injuries there,” he said. “It’s a dangerous sport just because of its nature.”

Dangerous sport?

The results of a 2019 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that skateboarding is less dangerous than other popular sports and recreational activities. Many more children and young adults visited emergency services from 2010 to 2016 for injuries related to football, basketball, soccer or pedal cycling, according to the CDC.

“In skateboarding, you do everything you can to try not to injure yourself,” Terry Grimble, founder of the nonprofit Friends of the Skateparks Foundation, said in a telephone interview. “In other sports you have an opponent who will benefit if you are injured and out of play or if you don’t play to your full potential. In skateboarding, you have no opponent. It’s you against the board.

Lambdin said the League of Municipalities of North Carolina could only recall two skate park-related lawsuits since the Skateboard Facilities Act was enacted in 2003. Both lawsuits involved children who suffered burns on their feet. metal ramps, which can get very hot during the summer.

One of the lawsuits was filed by the parents of an 18-month-old boy who fell while trying to climb a metal ramp at a skate park in Onslow County in 2014. No such ramp will be included in the package. Whispering Pines park, Lambdin said.

The council’s action on Tuesday temporarily bans skateboarding behind the village hall. However, the ordinance establishing a skate park there could still be approved in a specially convened meeting on November 30.

Roberts has made no secret of his support for the proposal.

“There is an urgent need (for skate parks) in this county and across the country – everywhere you look,” she said. “We should have skate parks. They are good and fun.

His comments were echoed by Grimble, who said that “every community needs a skate park”.

“We need these facilities just like we need basketball courts, tennis courts and pickleball courts,” he said. “Just like baseball fields and football fields. They must be everywhere. Honestly, there must be the same number of skate parks as there are (sites) for these other activities.

“What we needed”

Moore County has never had a government-sanctioned skate park, and previous efforts to create one have failed.

Earlier this year, the Village of Pinehurst hired a consulting firm to gather public input on potential uses for West Pinehurst Park.

Gabe Reynolds at the Whispering Pines skate park on November 13, 2021.

Gabe Reynolds at the Whispering Pines skate park on November 13, 2021.

Of more than a dozen possible amenities listed in an online poll, a skateboarding facility was the favorite among voters. Many people have also expressed their desire to see a skate park built on the property during a pair of virtual workshops hosted by the company.

Despite the high level of interest, a skate park was not included in the consultants’ final proposal for the site.

Jack Kelley, a 15-year-old skateboarder from Southern Pines, started a petition to build a local skate park in 2019. He collected hundreds of signatures, but the demand was never put forward.

On Saturday, Kelley was skating with her friends behind Village Hall.

“I think that’s what we needed, and I think it helps a lot of kids get out of the house and learn something new,” he said. “The skate scene is so much bigger now than it was two years ago, and it looks like more people are more open about (creating a park).”

Taylor Creech, a 40-year-old who grew up skateboarding in Texas, was also at Whispering Pines Park on Saturday.

“For a popular neighborhood park, that’s great,” he said. “When I started to see people come here and put up ramps, I thought it wouldn’t last long.” It’s good that the community is open-minded enough to let the children – and the old people – come here and do that.

Comments are closed.