A full house was in attendance at the Whispering Pines Town Council meeting as many of the younger residents spoke in favor of a skating park. They left the meeting Tuesday evening disappointed as the council tabled action on it until a February meeting.
Concerns about liability and complying with North Carolina statutes trumped the enthusiasm skaters of all ages showed for the park. Whispering Pines Town Manager Rich Lambdin discussed “how a park grew organically in a space behind the village administration office.” According to Lambdin, there was no plan of building a skateboard park there, but some residents brought some ramps and other equipment, and a little park sprung up.
The planned future park will be a tier 1 unsupervised park and requires users to sign an indemnity form, wear protective equipment and be a resident of Whispering Pines. North Carolina has a statute that will protect cities from liability if the village adopts an ordinance that complies with all the regulations.
The village has to adopt an ordinance with rules and regulations, and adequate signage must be posted describing those rules. If someone is injured in the park, neither the village nor village employees can be held liable. The additional insurance premium for the village will be around $300 per year.
Two young sisters, ages nine and 10, spoke to the council stating, “We are in favor of the skate park because it is good for our future, and we have a lot of friends who skate.”
Other residents spoke of their hope for a more extensive skate park with professionally built ramps and rails.
Whispering Pines Mayor Pro-Tem Glenn Bernhard pointed out, “That is not what this is. It is four parking spaces with a couple of ramps.” Councilmember Pamela Harris related how she spent a weekend talking to skaters. “Many of them were not from Whispering Pines, and hardly any were wearing appropriate protective equipment,” said Harris.
In the end, liability concerns and a desire not to rush the matter resulted in any action on the future park being tabled until Feb. 9 with a mortarium on using the makeshift skating park until then. Councilman Bob Zschoche expressed concern about stopping skaters from using it if the equipment is still out there.
However, the council scheduled a special meeting on Nov. 30 to have a comprehensive discussion about it. Up for discussion will be passes, registration procedures, and whether guests or out-of-town residents be permitted. According to Bernhard, he supports the idea of a skate park, but the ordinance is not yet ready for prime time.”
Feature photo: Display of skateboards at Flowland, Sandhills’ Counter Culture Outlet, located in Aberdeen. Staff photo was taken in 2019.
~Written by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter Chris Prentice. Contact him at [email protected].