by Krystal Spring
Skateboarders and in-line skaters in Havre finally have a place to hone their skills, if they agree to follow a few simple rules.
After nearly three years of planning, the city of Havre's skate park is now a reality. The Parks and Recreation Committee of the Havre City Council met Monday night with parks and recreation director Dave Wilson to review a list of rules formulated by Wilson and members of the Havre Skateboarding Association.
"The only way that this is going to be successful is if we all take part," Wilson said.
The Havre Community Skate Park is located at the base of the hill where Robert Patterson Memorial Park sits. Ninth Street is north of the skate park.
The park will not be supervised at all times, which means skaters using the facility are responsible for reading and following the set of rules the city has proposed, Wilson said. Similar types of nondirect-supervision skate parks operate in Missoula and Kalispell. Havre's park rules address issues ranging from safety equipment recommendations to restrictions on loud music.
Wilson said a temporary sign listing the rules is in place at the facility. After the Havre City Council approves a final set of rules, a permanent rules sign will be posted.
The rules clearly state that the park is not supervised. "Skate at your own risk" is written in bold at the top of the rules, followed by: "Skateboarding and in-line skating have inherent risks. The city of Havre is not responsible for any accident or injury incurred during skateboarding and in-line skating activity."
Wilson said today the set of rules was reviewed and approved by the Montana Municipal Insurance Authority, who insures the city. The rules were developed to protect the city and the park's skaters without being too restrictive, Wilson said.
"This seems to be a workable set of rules," he added. "We want to create a venue for the young people to go enjoy themselves and to skate and have fun."
The city recommends, but does not require, that skaters wear safety equipment like helmets, gloves, wrist guards, and knee and elbow pads. The rules also state that no food or beverages are allowed in the facility and that alcohol, drugs and tobacco products are prohibited in and around the skate park. The rules also prohibit bicycles, scooters and motorized vehicles from using the facility.
"There's some noes in there, but I think they need to be there. But I don't think those noes will keep the kids from skating," Wilson said. "We do the same thing with basketball, tennis everything has a risk warning tied to it."
Charlie Grant, treasurer of the Havre Skateboarding Association, said Monday he's pleased with the rules Wilson and the association agreed upon.
"We think these are very good rules. I'm happy with them," Grant told the Parks and Recreation Committee.
Lita Thisselle, the skateboard association's secretary, said the cooperation between the city and the association was instrumental in getting the facility completed. She said the park rules provide the skaters with basic guidelines for the facility's use.
"I believe this is something everyone can live with," she said today. "I was up there the other day and the kids were having a lot of fun. That's what counts."
The committee unanimously agreed to approve the rules, with a few minor changes, and send them to the full City Council for consideration.
"I think we should put these up and see how they work," then make changes if necessary, Parks and Recreation Committee member Rick Pierson said Monday.
Skaters who violate the rules can lose their park privileges and be fined up to $100. Wilson said violations are punishable under a section of the Havre City Code that gives the parks and recreation director the power to make rules for city parks and provide penalties for those who break them.
The concrete foundation for the skate park was poured in June, then the facility hit a speed bump. The city had sent a $15,700 check in January to Rec Ramps, a Canadian-based company that specialized in skateboarding products and equipment. The money, which included both city funds and money raised by the skateboarding association, was intended for a down payment on the skating facility's modular components - including ramps and rails. But Rec Ramps went under and closed down before it sent the city the equipment it ordered, according to Wilson.
Wilson said another Canadian company took over Rec Ramps' skating equipment products and proposed a package deal to the city, which the city accepted. Havre Mayor Bob Rice said today he's working with the new company to discuss how much the city will need to pay for the equipment.
"We're still working on that," he added.
Rice said he drove to Edmonton, Alberta, last week to pick up a set of ramps for the facility, which skaters are already enjoying.
Rice has advocated for the construction of a city skate park since his candidacy in 2001.
"I'm just really pleased" to have the skate park come to fruition, Rice said.
The total cost of the skate park has been estimated at $80,000. The money was raised from federal grants, the Tony Hawk Foundation, community events, and individual and business donations. In 2002 the city put forward $10,000 from its capital improvement program for the project. The Mayor's Ball fund-raiser also helped raise more than $12,000 for the park.