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Skate Park: Clark Administration fails to consider costs of defending against potential million dollar lawsuits; guards posted after Weiner expressed concerns - News Journal

Skaters must wait a little longer to use park
Guards now posted until official opening
Dec. 24, 2011    + 7 Comments  Written by ADAM TAYLOR  The News Journal

The fencing around the nearly completed Glasgow Skatepark is adorned with "no trespassing" signs.

But the concrete bowls, steps and ramps have been too inviting for the impatient skateboarders, BMX bicycle riders and people on scooters to resist.

For nearly a month, they have torn down the signs, scaled the fences and used the park. On Thursday, 150 people were there, according to Jon Husband, a manager in New Castle County's Special Services Department. Nearly 700 people "like" the skatepark's unofficial Facebook page.

"It's like putting candy on the counter, walking out and saying, 'Don't touch it,' " Husband said.
New Castle County has hired a security firm to make sure the trespassers stay out of the park until the finishing touches have been put on it before opening, which could be several weeks or months away. The guards started their work on Friday.

The $750,000 skatepark is part of the development of the $2.2 million third phase for Glasgow Regional Park at Del. 896 and U.S. 40. The county is using $400,000 of its own money and $350,000 from the state to build the facility.

The contractor is finalizing construction of the 20,000-square-foot skatepark. The county owns the land, but the contractor officially owns the skatepark until the work is complete and the facility is transferred.

The kids using the park is delaying that transfer, Husband said. The county won't take ownership if there are cracks in the concrete or scrapes on the metal railings.

"I'm hoping they can stay out of the park until we can get it in our possession," Husband said. "It's going to be a great facility and they really are great kids."

Eric Vanderpoel, 32, vice president of Friends of Glasgow Park and a skateboarder who maintains the park's Facebook page, said he has tried to get the skaters to stay out of the park for now. The owners of Switch and Adrenaline skate shops having been trying to get the message out as well, Vanderpoel said.

"Everyone is chomping at the bit to use it," he said. "The police come and chase people away, but the kids just run into the woods and come out and go back onto the park when the police leave."

The security guards are at the park from 4 to 8 p.m. on weekdays and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends and holidays. The contractor will be at the site until 4 p.m. on weekdays, Husband said.

There will be no security guard at the park once it opens. People can use it from dawn to dusk.

"We'll have rules, but it's going to be an unmanned facility," he said. "It will be skate at your own risk. We'll recommend that people wear helmets and pads, but if they choose not to, it will be their own risk and their own liability."

That concerns County Councilman Bob Weiner, who thinks the county should look into having someone monitor skating at the park or hire a contractor to do so. He thinks the county could get sued if someone is injured at the park.

"It's an ultra-hazardous activity and precautions need to be taken," Weiner said. "It's only a matter of time until someone gets hurt. We need to balance the interests of making sure people skate safely and protecting the taxpayer from liability."

Vanderpoel said he would like to see the park unsupervised.

"We want to keep it as a freedom park without pad nannies and locked fences," he said. "We want everyone to stay out of it until it opens officially as much as the county does."

Anthony Taylor Jr. • Works at W. L. Gore and Associates 
hey rebecca, think about how long the skatepark will last & give the kids in the area something productive to do. its a great investment. 
Lauren Downs Wetsel • Salisbury University 
Kris Kinsler Hague 
As a mom of a skateboarder/bmx rider, I am grateful to see a nice facility for the kids to use. The other parks in Delaware are a little smaller & have no bowls only ramps/rails. This also includes nearby parks in PA. For these kids, this is what they love to do! This skatepark has been in the planning for years & it's nice to see that it actually has come to fruition. The kids are always trying to skate/ride anywhere where they can find a spot, usually getting kicked out, they mean no harm, they are just trying to perfect their craft. I don't know all the legalities behind the suing the County if someone gets hurt, but there are parks like this across the country, usually skate/bike at your own risk. Bob Weiner "thinks" the County can get sued, but has he actually looked into this? I for one know that "skate at your own risk" means just that, it's your risk, not the County's. These kids really don't need a babysitter & if they do, they shouldn't be skating/riding at a skatepark. LET THE KIDS SKATE/BIKE NANNY FREE!!!!
Sharon Cunningham 
I'm right around the corner - come visit!

Lauren Downs Wetsel • Salisbury University 
I firmly believe this is one of the greatest things the state of DE could do to help those in need. Its giving kids and adults a safe and secured place to do what they love. Have you gone to watch them? I have. They are very talented, happy and grateful. Thank you for doing this for them. Its going to save lives. Kids will be skating where its open and safe and it will in turn give them a chance to get off the couch and do something productive. Wonderful way to spend the money. Cheers and Merry Christmas to all! But I must also say in the skaters and riders defense the "fence" wasn't all that secured. There was a clear opening for them go through and the origin of skating was to be a rebel, and well they are following in the footsteps hahah. Parks are wonderful anyone that thinks the money should go elsewhere needs to take a look at how many people utilize the resources and are out there trying to lose weight, have a little fun and enjoy life. The state does PLENTY for those in need. Again, Merry Christmas.
Lori Waldee Graham • Personal Trainer and SMART Start Coordinator at YMCA of Delaware/Bear-Glasgow Family Branch 
I work right across the street and have been watching the development of the park for quite some time. Yesterday I was absolutely THRILLED to see a swarm of kids in the park (not aware that they were trespassing). Hurry and get it officially open - these kids have been waiting a very long time. I'm just sorry it wasn't there for my oldest son several years ago! I agree with the post below: at last the kids in the area have something productive to do - it's a GREAT investment.

Michael A Slater • Lexington, North Carolina 
weiner needs to understand that "skate at your own risk" posted on the entrance to the park leaves the county completely blameless for the actions of the individual entering. If the sign is posted, they understand that upon entrance and can not hold anyone liable but themselves for their actions from there on in. maybe he should think about a waiver for kids to have signed digitally by parents and kept on record with Parks and Rec. Post the waiver on the facebook page with a secure digital signature feature. This way you can have a record of kids who visit the park for mailings of events, as well as have a " you can't sue me" insurance policy.
Melanie Bonk 
See you nailed it right there. Just because this "kids" (under 18) are ok with the" skate at you on risk" does not mean the parents are ok with that and by law a minor can not agree to such terms.
Melanie Bonk 
Anyway you look at it they will be opened to the possiabilty of being sued. Its not cost effective to have a guard out there from dusk to dawn asking everyone's name to see if the wavier is on file.
Rebecca Markowitz • Newark, Delaware 
$750,000 for a skate park?? Don't we have bigger concerns? Why don't you actually put this money to good use and actually help those in need? We are in a recession and THIS is what you report on Christmas Eve?
Jesse Matthews • Chester Springs, Pennsylvania 
It's unfortunate that the kids can't wait, but the fact that they're there shows how badly a park like this is needed. $750,000 is a small price to pay if it saves even one kid from being hit or killed by a car or otherwise getting into bad things for lack of something positive to do. There's news articles galore and plenty of reseach to back that up.

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