By Tia Lynn Lecorchick staff writer
The Skateboard Park Committee, commissioned by the Greenspace Conservation Commission (GCC), released a report recommending the construction of a skateboard park in Madison at their Apr. 1 meeting. According to the report, the GCC “recommends that adequate land be made available for a skateboard park as part of an existing or future multipurpose public property provided that fund-raising and liability is adequately addressed.”
A Morgan County High School class administered a survey to over 500 Morgan County school students from the elementary, middle and high schools to measure the desire for a skateboard park in the community. Out of the students surveyed, 38 percent indicated that they skateboard on a regular basis and 54 percent indicated that they would use a skateboard park if it was built. The commission report noted that the existence of skateboarders without a local skateboard park has resulted in the inappropriate use of public and private property for skateboarding.
A specific parcel of land has not yet been proposed, but the commission recommends that the skateboard park “should be in an area of high visibility and protected from vehicular traffic conflicts by siting and/or fencing.” The GCC report suggests that the skateboard park be added to an already existing park or public facility to “increase supervision and shared maintenance.”
The commission believes the ideal spot for a skateboard park will be near where young people naturally gather: the school corridor of the high school and elementary school, possibly in the areas around the tennis courts, track, and Aquatics Center. The report stressed the importance of ensuring a skateboard park be far away from traffic, citing a 2011 American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons which concluded that skateboarding children are most at risk for injury when “near traffic of in place where it is possible to college with motor vehicles, bikes, or other obstacles.”
The study also revealed that skateboard-related injuries account for more than 78,000 emergency room visits for people under the age of 19 and that 52 percent of those injured were under the age of 15. While the commission is recommending moving forward with the skateboard park, they also warn the county to seriously consider potential liabilities and safety precautions.
The commission proposed that the county should ultimately be in charge of oversight of the skateboard park as part of their Recreation Department.