Board passes skate park ordinance
by James Howell
A skate park ordinance was passed by the Ashe County Board of Commissioners Monday ensuring the county is not legally liable for injuries within the High Country Skate Park.
“It is unlawful for a person to ride or use a skateboard, in-line skates, roller skates, or a BMX bike, in a designated public skate park facility unless a person is wearing a helmet, elbow pads and knee pads,” says section 100.03 of the ordinance.
The skate park, located within the Ashe County Park, will post signs warning against the hazards of skating and prohibiting participants who do not wear safety gear.
The Ashe County Board of Commissioners passed the ordinance with a 4-0 vote. Commission Chair Judy Porter Poe was absent for the vote.
This issue was brought to the attention of the board of commissioners by Patty Gambill, the county’s emergency management coordinator.
When Gambill and Scott Turnmyre, the interim parks and recreations director, investigated the hazards at Ashe County Park, Gambill noticed the current sign at the skate board park “didn’t look quite right,” according to the standards set by General Statute 99E, passed by the state legislature.
General Statute 99E-23(b) says the following:
“For any facility owned or operated by a governmental entity that is designed and maintained for the purpose of recreational skateboard use, and that is not supervised on a regular basis, the requirements under subsection (a) of this section are satisfied when all of the following occur:”
The statute continues, saying “(1) the governmental entity adopted an ordinance requiring any person riding a skateboard at the facility to wear a helmet, elbow pads, and kneepads. (2) Signs are posted at the facility affording reasonable notice that any person riding a skateboard in the facility must wear a helmet, elbow pads, and kneepads and that any person failing to do so will be subject to citation under the ordinance under subdivision (1) of this subsection.”
Turnmyre said complying with statute 99E simply means adding an ordinance and a new sign to the skate park that offers more details about the parks regulations. In exchange for this compliance, the county will not be held liable for injuries. The ordinance insures this in section 100.04.
Section 100.04 says “skateboarding, in-line skating, roller skating and/or BMX biking at a designated public skate park facility represents a hazardous recreational activity for participants and the county will not be liable for any injuries incurred by persons participating in the hazardous recreational activity at the designated public skate park facility owned and/or operated by the county.”
The ordinance also explains the punishments for a skater or biker who will not wear the proper safety gear.
Section 100.99 of the ordinance says “violations of the provisions of this chapter will result in a citation under this chapter as authorized by General Statute 99E-23(b)(2) and may constitute a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine. The county reserves the right to revoke the use of the skate park to individuals who violate the rules and regulations of the skate park.”
According to Turnmyre, these rules aren’t any different than the rules enforced in the past, so the skaters and bikers will not notice any differences. Signs have already been posted warning participants of a possible citation if skaters do not wear safety equipment.
The only difference at the High Country Skate Park will be the inclusion of an extra sign which includes addition information.
“The new sign will be added to the park by the end of the week,” said Turnmyre.
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