Westminster approves creating a park for use by skateboarders Tennis courts will be converted

July 14, 1998|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

Westminster will soon be home to a public skateboard park, the first of its kind in Carroll County.

The creation of a skateboard park at the city playground, behind the Westminster Family Center on Longwell Avenue, received unanimous approval yesterday from the Westminster Common Council.

Last night's decision allows city recreation officials to move forward with plans to convert two tennis courts into an obstacle course for skateboarders and in-line skaters. The outdoor facility will include half-pipes, quarter-pipes, railings, ramps and other obstacles mimicking an urban landscape.

"We feel this will be a very successful project," said Ronald J. Schroers, supervisor of recreation and activities for Westminster. "Over the years, there's been a real cry and outpour from skateboarders and in-line skaters, and their parents, for this type of facility."

Skateboarding on streets, sidewalks and other rights of way in Westminster is illegal. Violators are subject to a $25 fine. The council tabled a request by Mayor Kenneth A. Yowan last night to study the feasibility of "decriminalizing" such activity by amending the law.

The county has agreed to give Westminster a $31,000 grant to build the skateboard park. The city will pay the operating costs.

Thomas B. Beyard, the city's director of planning and public works, said insurance costs will run about $4,000 a year. Weather permitting, the park will be open 40 weeks a year.

In May, the council approved a $17,050 operating budget for the skateboard park, which would have covered insurance costs and the salary of a staff member to oversee the park.

But city officials re-examined their proposal during the past two months and decided to use existing staff to supervise the park, significantly reducing its operating costs.

An exact figure was not available yesterday.

City officials said they will offset all operating costs by charging a nominal admission fee, perhaps as much as $25 per person, per year, Schroers said.

He will submit a revised operating budget to city leaders in the next few weeks. He also will report to the Common Council at the end of the 1999 season to evaluate how the park is doing.

If the park is successful, Carroll officials might consider building similar skateboard parks in other municipalities, according to Richard J. Soisson, the county's director of recreation, parks and facilities.

In other business, the council voted unanimously to appoint Richard Wilbur to the city's tree commission. Wilbur has 12 years' experience in landscaping. He is replacing Jessica DeCesare, who resigned in April. Her position was slated to expire in March 1999.

The council also reappointed Timothy S. Bryson, owner of Locust Books in downtown Westminster, to the city's ethics commission. Bryson has served on the commission since 1989.

Lloyd R. Helt Jr., an attorney and former mayor of Sykesville, and the Rev. Robert E. Walker Jr., pastor of Union Street United Methodist Church, also were appointed yesterday to the ethics commission. Each was appointed to five-year terms.

Also yesterday, the council awarded a $198,775 roadway paving contract to Gray and Son Inc. of Butler. The majority of the work will focus on Uniontown Road, near Westminster Elementary School.

J & H Construction Co. Inc. of Jarrettsville was awarded a $65,937 contract to install playground equipment and landscape Dutterer Family Park.

The council also approved the purchase of a new John Deere front-end loader and a Neal paver. The loader will be purchased from Standard Equipment Co. of Frederick for $84,945. The paver will be purchased from Valley Supply and Equipment Co. Inc. of Funkstown for $58,500. City officials had budgeted $100,000 for it. The $41,500 surplus will be transferred to the city's street overlay program.

Pub Date: 7/14/98

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