Plans for skating park given green light

It appears a new wave of skateboarding enthusiasm has hit Moore County. Whispering Pines is working on a small skate park, and now Southern Pines is in the planning stage as well. The Southern Pines Town Council Tuesday gave a green light for town staff to work on skating park plans to complement the town’s other recreational amenities.

You will recall that back in September, Marcel Goneau presented a request for the town to reconsider its stance on skateboarding. Responding to Goneau, Suzanne Coleman, who works with the town’s Welcome Center at the train station, submitted a letter to the council sharing that there have been documented incidents with skateboarders vandalizing the train station and causing damage to the building. These two requests prompted the council to request town staff to make recommendations for skating in Southern Pines.

Goneau tragically passed away on Nov. 13 at the age of 58.

False reports were circulating on social media that Southern Pines was trying to ban skateboarding, to which Regan Parsons, Southern Pines Town Manager, responded, “We all agree we need to keep the downtown area safe.” This is why skateboarding is banned in the downtown area but permitted in other parts of Southern Pines.

Skateboarding has experienced a surge in popularity during the pandemic. With the inclusion of skateboarding in the Olympic Games and the result of the pandemic, skateboarding is entering a golden era.

A skating facility was located in Pinebuff from 2006 to 2009, run by the nonprofit group Skaters for Moore. It closed when the building it was housed in was no longer available, but it had over 300 members at the end. William Dean, owner of Flowland in Aberdeen, who sells skateboards and equipment, was a founder of Skaters for Moore, and he was present at Tuesday’s town council meeting.

The town has received a lot of feedback, and interest in a skate park is high.

There is an organization in Fayetteville called Friends of the Skateparks Foundation. According to their website, they “are a nonprofit that fosters skateboarding to help at-risk youth and construct public skateparks.” Quality skateparks are the key to being successful. However, many towns don’t know where to begin, much less what the difference is between a quality skatepark and one that’s not. 

Friends of the Skateparks Foundation is a nonprofit that can assist with skate parks up to $150,000. According to Parsons, the initial budget will be around $50,000 (for planning purposes) and initially may be no bigger than a basketball court.

A great deal of discussion centered around where the park would be located. The initial consensus was for a location in Memorial Park. The main advantage of Memorial Park is that it has existing parking and restroom facilities. They are a couple of areas that could be repurposed for the park, including an outdoor racquetball court. 

The Friends of the Skateparks Foundation can help with planning and fundraising, but they needed to know that there was a political will for it. Southern Pines Mayor Carol Haney stated there is the will for it and the town to continue with the initial planning. Also addressing skateboarders in attendance, she said, “You have been very patient.”

It is important to note that the town has not committed any funds to the project, just authorized the necessary planning to formulate a plan.

Sandhills_Sentinel~Written by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter Chris Prentice. Contact him at [email protected].

Feature photo captured by Sandhills Sentinel Photographer Cow McFarland.

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