Just days after Lifland Skatepark opened in Elm Park, city officials slammed risky actions by users not wearing helmets and noticed cracks in the concrete of the park that was built by private donation and cost more than $40,000.
On Tuesday, city Councilmen N. Clifford "Skip" Smith and Don Noviello joined city Bureau of Fire Chief C. Dean Heinbach to express their concerns about what they perceive is a "lack of supervision" at the park for skateboarders and BMX riders.
The park opened Saturday.
Despite a sign with rules posted, Heinbach said he witnessed a young man riding without a helmet and when he informed the youth, he claimed he could ride helmetless because he is over age 16.
"I want to read the insurance policy," Smith said, given assurance by the solicitor it does not place the city at risk for liability associated with injuries or accidents.
Heinbach said that may be, but the unsupervised youth easily could have hurt himself or worse.
Noviello said he noticed "cracks" in the concrete that he supposed might pose risk to users should they open up further as a result of winter weather.
Smith said he wants to see better supervision at the park, which is open dawn until dusk.
A sign at the park requires skaters and bicyclists to wear helmets but some choose not to.
"It's not the state law regarding motorcyclists," city Police Chief Gregory A. Foresman said. "It's the rules of Lifland Skatepark LLC."
"We just got it open," said Lonnie Wilcox, president of the skatepark. "We had some issues during construction, such as scheduling conflicts and the project going some time without being finished, but I wish they (council) would have brought these issues up before."
Wilcox said he was willing to listen to suggestions and try to improve on its operation. He noted the insurance quote accepted is for an "unsupervised and unfenced skatepark."
"Helmets are required," he said. "Rules are posted now but were not during construction ... If a kid is hurt, we can take their medical billing and send it off to an insurance company," Wilcox said.
For those using the park, a waiver must be signed, he said. The waiver implies if one rides there is a risk and it is rider's responsibility for actions taken or accidents that occur, he said.
A sticker, which is supposed to be affixed to the rider's helmet, is proof he or she has signed the waiver.
Those 13 years of age and younger must be accompanied by an adult, he said.
Wilcox said he can review the construction-related issues.
"There is going to be maintenance on the park," he said. "We're prepared to fix those as problems come about."
Wilcox said the large expansion of concrete is tied together with rebar, a type of steel reinforcement.
"With a concrete slab 24 foot wide by 50 foot, you are going to have a few cracks," he said.
In the works for several years, the skatepark, which is open for bikers, rollerbladers, skateboarders and non-motorized scooters, has been touted by Mayor Gabriel J. Campana as the city's newest sporting attraction.
It is in the 1700 block of West Fourth Street between Elm Park and the original Little League Baseball fields.
It became a reality when Sally Butterfield, a city resident, gave a $40,000 donation in memory of her parents, Fay and Paul Lifland.
Wilcox said about $43,000 has been put into the park thus far with more improvements planned.