Skate park rules send mixed message
Those driving by the new Waynesville skate park can’t help but admire both the park and the graceful moves that can often be seen by those using it.
The curved concrete blocks allow boarders to glide to the top, turn on the top rail and then glide back.
Skateboarders can move from one place of the park to the other, trying different maneuvers depending on the section being used.
The landscaping around the park is as fetching as the geometrics of the concrete. Town employees certainly did their homework in finding trees and shrubbery that perfectly complement the town’s newest recreation facility.
That said, the rules surrounding use of the facility are ambiguous by design, both at the state and local level.
The North Carolina general statutes refer to skateboarding as one of three named forms of “hazardous recreation.” The other two mentioned are inline skating and freestyle bicycling.
The law recognizes that public entities have shied away from building facilities where hazardous recreation activities can take place, largely because of the risk of being sued.
That’s why a state law was passed to recognize the inherent danger posed by participating in such types of recreation and placing any liability for accidents squarely on the shoulders of those who participate. The law also protects the public from liability as long as certain steps are taken.
Waynesville town leaders have followed those steps, which includes adopting an ordinance requiring facility users to wear pads and helmets and posting a sign saying those who don’t will be subject to a citation.
That said, the skate park is unsupervised — and not patrolled.
Skateboarders know that, and most using the park do so without using the required safety gear.
The law states that, “no public entity that sponsors or allows skateboarding, inline skating or freestyle bicycling is required to eliminate, alter or control the inherent risk in these activities.”
So far there have been several injuries at the park, including chipped teeth and a hospitalization for a broken leg.
Since both the state law and the ordinance provide considerable leeway for interpretation, it will be interesting to watch how the situation unfolds in Waynesville.