Behavior is problem at skatepark

Published 11:01 pm Thursday, May 15, 2008

By Staff
City officials appeal
to parents to help
supervise new facility
Senior Reporter
Behavioral problems at the Patrick Cochran Memorial Skatepark need to be fixed, say Washington officials who are calling on parents of the skatepark users to help intervene.
The skatepark opened Feb. 2. It is located east of the Bobby Andrews Recreation Center on East Seventh Street. Skatepark rules are posted on the fence by the entrance to the park.
She said all users of the skatepark are required to wear helmets, elbow pads and knee pads for safety reasons.
Hardison said the main problem is compounded with bad language that is being used by some of the users.
Mobley said the city experiences some of the same problems at the Bobby Andrews Recreation Center, Havens Garden and other city facilities.
Washington Police Chief Mick Reed said his officers are keeping a close watch on the skatepark during their patrols.
He said there have been 20 calls for police assistance at the skatepark since it opened.
Chrismon said one of the responses was to investigate an assault and robbery. On separate occasions, police also investigated a fight and vandalism at the skatepark that occurred after a lock had been removed from the gate to the skatepark.
When a skatepark user is not compliant with the park’s rules, Hardison said, a city official who observes the infraction will report the name and decal number (users are required to register with the city) of that user to her. Hardison then sends a certified letter to that user’s address as a warning for that user to obey the rules.
If a user who has been warned breaks the rules again, another certified letter will be sent to that user. That letter will inform the user he or she has been suspended from using the skatepark for 30 days. Hardison said there has been one 30-day suspension since the skatepark opened. Another person has been suspended indefinitely from using the skatepark.
That person was arrested and faces a misdemeanor assault charge for allegedly accosting a skatepark user and a felony robbery charge for allegedly taking that user’s skateboard, according to the police department. The victim was taken to the Beaufort County Hospital, where he was treated and released.
Davis said he knows that number of calls seems low.
Pam Shadle, Beaufort County Hospital’s marketing and public relations director, said the hospital has treated about a dozen individuals for injuries resulting from use of the skatepark.
City officials opted to treat the skatepark as an unsupervised facility, which is allowed by state law, said Bill Lurvey, the city’s risk-management official.
He said state law required the city to adopt an ordinance establishing the facility as an unsupervised skatepark in order for the city to be eligible to obtain insurance coverage from the N.C. League of Municipalities.
The mayor hopes the state will make it easier in the future for cities like Washington to have skateparks by addressing liability concerns that may keep some cities and towns from building similar facilities.
Hardison said the number of users at the skatepark has leveled off since its opening day.
Decals are one of the requirements for a user to enter the skatepark. Decals indicate the users have registered with the city and are familiar with the skatepark’s rules.
Hardison said the park’s highest use times are on Saturdays, weekdays after school and Sunday afternoons.
The park is not open at night. According to the police department, there have been no problems at the park at night.