LAKE PLACID - The North Elba town board has delayed a decision on what to do with little-used skateboard park equipment in a parking lot behind the Shipman Youth Center.
The board had planned to make a decision at its monthly meeting Tuesday night, but several community members, including people who helped acquire the equipment and design the park several years ago, asked for more time.
Dan Leff was involved in setting up the park five years ago.
Members of the Saranac Lake SkatePark Committee say they would gladly accept unused skateboard park equipment from the town of North Elba if it can’t find a place for kids to use it. From left are committee members Lindy Ellis, Peggy Wiltberger and Jon Vinograd, as well as Brian Leff, a skateboarder from Lake Placid.
(Enterprise photos — Chris Morris)
"I don't know who uses it, when it's used, and I was unaware until (town Councilman) Bob (Miller) told me recently that we had a situation that it was in trouble," Leff said.
Leff said he will work with Pat Ledger and others to help the board find a solution.
The equipment was purchased in 2007 using $100,000 in state grants and private donations. It's located on land owned by the Lake Placid Central School District. The town had been paying a Shipman employee $7,000 to oversee the park, but that supervision has discouraged kids from using it.
Because of liability concerns, the district has kept a fence around the equipment and the park has been closed to public use this spring.
"The only concern I have is I want to see kids use the equipment," Miller said. "I think this whole board agrees that we want to see kids use the equipment in our town. But if we can't problem-solve this, I still want to see kids use it."
Members of the Saranac Lake SkatePark Committee attended Tuesday night's meeting; their village has a skatepark site but no ramps or other equipment. Peggy Wiltberger said if North Elba can't find a solution, her group would gladly accept the equipment.
"We would be appreciative," she said.
Dan Leff's son Brian said it makes him sad to see the park sit unused. He said right now, if kids can't get into the park, they'll just go elsewhere.
"It's great that you've given us some extra time to figure it out," Brian said. "It's great that we can get the community involved. It seems so simple, but it's not that simple, obviously."
"We'll figure it out," Dan said. "Creative minds have gathered around the table to do a lot of things in this town."
Miller said he asked school district Superintendent Randy Richards if he would be interested in taking down the fence and removing the need for supervision. Miller said he wasn't sure that the school's insurance company required it.
"He was, understandably, concerned about liability," Miller said. "My next question was, 'Would you consider leasing the land to the Shipman Youth Center, and if you would do that, would it remove the liability.'"
Richards told the Enterprise this morning that the district's attorney doesn't think leasing the land would be a good idea.
"I want to see kids have a skateboard park," he said. "I'm not sure it's the best location for it. I'd like to keep it local but just see it moved."
Asked if the school district could sell the land in question, Richards said the district could do that, but he's not sure what kind of support he would get from the Board of Education or school officials.
"I'm not sure the district would want to give up that piece of property," he said.
Ron Briggs, attorney for the town, said if the district leased the land to the youth center, there could be a provision in the lease to require insurance and indemnify the school.
"So if they could lease it, they could protect the school," he said.
Miller said he discussed that possibility with Dmitry Feld from the youth center.
"He seemed pretty positive about it, and he said he'd be happy to bring it to his board," Miller said. "It seemed like that may be an option. We're still waiting for answers."