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Fixes for skate park problems discussed
Above, water is shown collecting on the concrete surface of the skate park, located in J. Frank Wilson Park, on Friday. Skateboarders have said that rain causes water to collect on the surface, making the conditions unsafe for recreation. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)
Monday, January 14, 2013
From Bulletin Staff reports
The skate park at J. Frank Wilson Park may undergo some modifications in the future to solve a problem with standing water, according to interim city manager Leon Towarnicki.
Towarnicki said when the park was built, “great care was given to making the surface as level as it could be.” However, he said he has seen puddles on the park’s surface after periods of rain.
Following a light, steady rain Friday, the park’s concrete surface contained several large pools of water roughly half an inch deep.
The park was built in October 2010, but it has been back in the spotlight recently due to complaints of damage caused by skateboarders in uptown Martinsville.
At Tuesday night’s Martinsville City Council meeting, a ban on skateboarding on all public and private property in Martinsville’s central business district was discussed due to damage that skateboarders allegedly had done to structures outside of the former Henry County courthouse.
Ethan Harr, a skateboarder who helped design the park, said at the city council meeting that one reason skateboarders may not be using the park is that it collects standing water during rainy weather. That can damage skateboards, he said.
Towarnicki said now that the standing water issue has come to light, the city is looking into “what options we have to attempt to level that surface.” He plans to consult contractors to see if there’s a product suitable for filling in the depressions, or if drainage might be an option.
However, Towarnicki added that winter is not the ideal time for construction projects of this sort. Any modifications to the skate park would begin “possibly sometime this spring,” he said.
One option for solving the issue would be “crowning” the surface of the park: making the park’s centerpoint slightly higher so that water would drain off to the sides.
“That’s an option that would be looked at,” Towarnicki said, but added it would “likely be a last resort fix. An entire new surface would be needed to create that crown ... it would be an expensive proposition.” Less expensive options would be examined first.
Jim Frith, one of the donors who was instrumental in the creation of and fundraising for the skate park, is “grateful to have been a part of it,” he said.
He suggested another reason why the skate park might not be more heavily trafficked.
“When (the skate park) was built,” he said, “we had a director of recreation for the city.”
Gary Cody, who was director of Martinsville Parks and Recreation at that time, resigned from the position in August 2011.
According to Frith, Cody set up multiple events at the skate park, including skateboarding competitions. Frith believes that just having the park isn’t enough; it needs additional promotion.
“Because it’s there, they will come,” he said. “But way more will come” if the city schedules events to draw attention to the park.
“It would be nice to have that capacity back,” he said.
According to Towarnicki, “The funding for the position was eliminated in the current budget... Where we are now, there is no funding to fill that position through June 2013.”
Reinstating the position ultimately would be up to the city council, he added.