The board voted four to one Monday to offer $32,000 for equipment belonging to Appalachian Skate Park and bring it to Ashe. The money would come from $50,000 the county set aside in this year’s budget for Parks and Recreation repairs and maintenance of equipment and facilities.
County Manager Dan McMillan, who was surprised by the board’s vote, said the issue was discussed at the 2 p.m. work session and it was his understanding that Commissioner Gerald Price would bring up the issue at the 3:30 p.m. meeting for further discussion and perhaps a future decision. Price moved to purchase the equipment, and the board voted with hardly any discussion. Commission Chairwoman Judy Poe adamantly refused to support the vote, saying she had serious concerns about liability for the county.
McMillan said Watauga County commissioners had problems with the skate park due to youth skating without protective gear, graffiti being painted on the site, and unruly behavior by some park visitors as well as dwindling attendance. Since the county could not afford constant supervision, it was decided to close the park. He said the county’s insurance agency noted that signs posted about wearing protective gear and skating at own risk should serve the county’s liability requirements.
McMillan said the equipment is valued at about $80,000 and Appalachian Skate Park owes about $32,000 on it. He also said the commissioners did not agree to pay to have the equipment moved to Ashe, which could cost over $6,000, so he is not sure if the county’s offer will be accepted. A 90x118 foot site would have to be prepared as well, he said, and the county is looking at Ashe Park as a possible location.