Frederick skating towards updated park -- Gazette.Net


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Skateboarders who cruise downtown Frederick are loud and have damaged property, according to some who have complained.

The problem is greatest along Carroll Creek Linear Park, where people say walkways are blocked by skateboarders.

However, the Frederick Police Athletic League is hoping to give the city’s skateboarders a dedicated space — away from the downtown business district — by converting one of its rarely used basketball courts into a free skate park.

Plans call for replacing one of the two full-size basketball courts at Sagner Park, at 26 South Wisner St., with a 6,000-square-foot skate park, according to Kevin Contardi, the president of the board of the athletic league, who presented the project to the Board of Aldermen on Wednesday.

Contardi is also director of operations for Morgan-Keller Specialty, one of the contributors to the project.

The project needs approval from the Board of Aldermen to move forward, but a date for that vote has not been set.

Under the proposal, the other basketball court at Sagner Park will be repainted to have two half-size courts, he said.

To pay for the changes, the league is asking the city for $87,500 grant to supplement $38,000 in donated services, including construction and design of the park — completed by Pitcrew, a downtown Frederick skate store.

The city receives funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development each year for such projects.

Police Chief Kim Dine said police do not issue citations for skateboarders downtown because Frederick County judges have said they won’t enforce citations for people under 18. In response, the Board of Alderman passed an ordinance on Feb. 2 allowing police to cite the parents of children under 18 for skating or biking downtown. He said there hadn’t been any citations issued since.

Dine said the park gives officers an alternative to the ordinance, allowing them to direct skateboarders to an area they can skate in downtown.

Alderman Michael O’Connor (D) said the city shouldn’t worry about potential injury at the park, as any park facility carries injury risks.

“As long as you operate a park system, the opportunity exists that kids will fall down,” O’Connor said. “My daughter fell off a jungle gym when she was five or six. I’m glad that we don’t allow those kinds of things to hold us back.”

The city also operates a skate park at Hill Street Park, at 100 Hill Street. That park is significantly larger than the proposed Sagner Skate park, at 17,000 square feet, and also includes larger fixtures, such as concrete skateboard bowls, according to the city’s website.

Bob Smith, a recreation supervisor with the department, oversees the Hill Street Skate Park. That park is open from March through December, and had 3,700 users in 2011.

However, that park has fees ranging from $4 to $6 per day, with 13-visit cards and yearly passes also available.

Tim Reardon, a co-owner of Pitcrew, praised Hill Street Park, where the store has hosted skateboarding demonstrations, including one by Tony Hawk last year. But he said the Sagner Park skateboarding facility would be different, offering smaller ramps, stairs, and other items that mimic the street-style skating done downtown.

tlaino@gazette.net