`Legend' of park keeps skaters rolling

Sandy Hills Skate facility is newly renovated, offering kids place for fun

September 27, 2004|By Kevin T. McVey | Kevin T. McVey,SUN STAFF

In those precious hours between school dismissal and when parents come home and fix dinner, young skateboarders and inline skaters have an opportunity to perfect their skills and hang out with friends at the newly renovated Sandy Hills Skate Park on Bero Road in Lansdowne.

For the past 15 months, the park was under construction to add a street course with ramps, half-pipes and grinding rails to the skate bowl.

The improvements also included a bathroom, 50-space parking lot and comfort station.

Those who choose to skateboard or inline skate at Sandy Hills must register with the county to use the park. After they register, they can also use the skate parks in Cockeysville and Essex.

Ron Whitehead of Lansdowne is one of several attendants at Sandy Hills.

He arrives after his full-time job a few days a week to see that all is in order at the park, such as making sure that there is no vandalism and that youngsters using the park are registered.

`Family-oriented'

"Parents love this park because there's someone here to keep an eye on things, and there's no fights," Whitehead said. "Parents can bring their older kids to the park and then stay with the younger ones on the playground. This park is supposed to be family-oriented."

More than 1,200 youngsters are registered at the county's skate parks, with an average of 20 to 25 youths using the Sandy Hills park each day.

The park is open from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and from noon to 7 p.m. weekends.

The park requires those who wish to skate to wear a helmet and elbow pads. Kneepads are suggested but not required.

Three years ago, a boy on a bicycle went to the park alone and fell and broke his arm.

Park officials responded by adding supervisors and building a fence to stop children from getting in after hours.

Bryan Robinson, 13, a Lansdowne Middle School pupil, started skating when he saw familiar faces at the park.

"I used to live right on Bero Road, and I would come down here and see all of the kids skating and doing tricks," Bryan said. "That's what really got me into ... coming down here every day."

Building friendships

Many of the same youngsters come to the park every day after school to meet with other young skating enthusiasts.

Most of the skaters who use the park attend Lansdowne Middle or Lansdowne High, and, they say, a sense of community has developed since the park went through changes three years ago.

"It's the same people here every day," said Matt Collison, 19, of Lansdowne after finishing a jump over someone. Other skaters watched in awe after Collison finished the jump, but he just shrugged and pointed to friend Jerry Dawson, 16, from Lansdowne High School and said, "He can do it, too."

"If someone new comes around, then some of the kids will come up and get me and say there's a new skater around," Collison said. "I just say to them, `Let's see what he's got,' and head down to the park."

People have been known to come from all over to try out the skate bowl.

Whitehead said it's just something that skateboarders and inline skaters want to see for themselves.

"It's just the legend that attracts them," he said.

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