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Town plans to decide on skate park in June

May 12, 2012
By CHRIS MORRIS - Staff Writer ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

LAKE PLACID - When the North Elba town board meets next month, it expects to decide what to do with unused skateboard park equipment at the Shipman Youth Center.

"At some point, someone has to step up and find a location to move forward and allow kids to have use of the facility," town Supervisor Roby Politi said at Tuesday's regular board meeting.

"It's sitting there unused, and it's not a good location," he added.

Councilman Bob Miller told the board in April that other communities like Saranac Lake and Wilmington have asked him about the equipment, which was purchased in 2007 using $100,000 in state grants and private donations.

The skateboard park is located on land donated by the Lake Placid Central School District and is only open when supervised by an adult, due to insurance and liability issues. The town had been paying a Shipman employee $7,000 to oversee the park, but that supervision has discouraged kids from using it.

Now, the fenced-in park is closed all the time.

Miller said a more prominent location might attract more users. He added that with less than a month to go before the board decides what to do with the park, he hopes community members will start generating some ideas.

The town has approached the village about taking over the equipment at a new location. Mayor Craig Randall said the supervision issue would still be a factor if the village took it over.

"There are some liability issues, and that's why supervision becomes a factor," he told the Enterprise.

Brian Leff, 23, who now lives in Boston, was part of the original group that helped design the skate park. He also helped run it when he worked for the town about five years ago.

"It seemed a little silly to have someone there to have it open, but it was a good job, because I actually like to skate," Leff said.

"I feel that the only reason kids don't use the park is because of the huge, daunting, locked fence and the huge sign with the rules stating no this or no that," he said. "The idea of a skate park is to not lock kids out but to encourage them to come in and learn how to engage with a different terrain."

Leff said he wants to see Lake Placid keep the skateboard park. In his travels in California and Oregon, where skateboarding is more popular, he said the skate parks are public and fenceless.

"They are treated just (like) a basketball court, or a baseball field," Leff said. "In many cases where there is a park, there is an outdoor, cement skate park, too."

Randy Richards, superintendent of the school district, said it's clear to him the park isn't working in its current location. He said the district's hands are tied as far as liability is concerned: It can't remove the fence or let the park be used without supervision.

Richards said the equipment should be moved to a place where the kids using it can be seen.

"They want their peers to see what they're doing," he said. "But I do think we should try to keep it here in this community."

Even when closed, the park still represents a liability issue, Richards said.

"The fence doesn't stop them from jumping over," he said.

Miller said he wants kids to use the park.

"If we don't come up with a place to put it soon, we're going to go to the neighbors," he said, "and it matters to the people who invested in it."

Miller said some of the suggestions for where to put the park don't address the core problem.

"Someone said, 'How about the horse show grounds?'" he said. "Well, that's even further out of the way than where it is."

The town board will make a decision on the park's future at its next meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. June 12 at the North Elba Town Hall. Miller encouraged the community to reach out to board members with input before then.


Contact Chris Morris at 518-891-2600 ext. 25 or



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