If you are a skateboarder in Whispering Pines, Christmas will come a little early this year. The Whispering Pines Village Council on Tuesday approved the opening of a small skate park behind village hall effective Dec. 20.
At the previous Nov. 16 meeting, the council had a long discussion about a makeshift skate park in the area that, in the words of Village Manager Rich Lambdin “had sprung up organically.” At that meeting, several council members expressed concerns about the village’s liability but instructed village staff to work on an ordinance and regulations for an official skate park, but initially deferred action until Feb. 9 of next year.
To comply with the North Carolina statute protecting towns from liability, the area must be an unsupervised park with signage of rules and regulations posted. The rules include:
- Every person has to sign a liability release.
- No outside equipment. Only equipment approved and inspected by the town.
- No pets in the skate area.
- No swearing or loud music.
- Safety equipment must be worn.
- A responsible adult must accompany minors (under age 12).
- It is limited to Whispering Pines residents.
- Each skater will need to purchase a registration sticker to be placed on their helmet.
The new park will be open from 9 a.m. to sunset and during public meetings.
According to Lambdin, the total startup cost will be around $1,000. Under questions from the council, he estimated the capacity of the park would be six skaters in the active skating area at a time.
The council added several of the rules to the ordinance approving the park. This will enable police to deal with troublemakers and would allow criminal charges if warranted.
Councilmember Pam Harris had mentioned that several skaters she had spoken to expressed a desire for a more extensive and elaborate park. They had also mentioned that a couple of areas were rough and might be a safety issue. Lambdin reported that an “inspector from the town’s insurance provider had inspected the area and found no concerns.” He also added that there were no plans to expand the park.
The park will be unsupervised, but village staff will do periodical inspections to check for repairs and other safety issues. The equipment was donated by Whispering Pines residents, and it was inspected by village staff for safety and sturdiness.
The Dec. 20 target date allows the village to order the stickers and the necessary signage. There will also be an additional safety inspection before opening.
Resident Catherine Rice addressed the council on Tuesday expressing concern about how the noise from the previous makeshift skate park was a significant distraction and made it difficult to sell property she had near village hall. She also threatened legal action against the village if the plans for the new skate park went forward.
The village approved the ordinance 4-1 with Pam Harris objecting.
This was also the last meeting for long-serving councilmember Bob Zschoche who did not run for reelection.
The next village meeting will be on Dec. 8. It is an organizational meeting where board members take the oath of office and elect the mayor and mayor pro-tem.
~Written by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter Chris Prentice. Contact him at [email protected].