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Rogersville considers ordinance mandating rules for skate park

March 14th, 2007 12:12 am by Jeff Bobo



ROGERSVILLE - Rogersville Mayor Jim Sells said Tuesday he will form a committee to determine if there should be a city ordinance setting out rules and procedures for the city's new skateboard park.


The Board of Mayor and Aldermen was presented Tuesday with a sample skate park ordinance from Kingston which outlines numerous rules for use of the park. Rogersville's park was recently built in the corner of Rogersville City Park near the Park Boulevard and Highway 11-W intersection.


The city paid half the $80,000 construction cost, while the other half was raised through donations by local skateboard enthusiasts, parents and other residents.


The park currently has a sign posted requiring patrons to wear a helmet - and beneath a certain age elbow and knee pads as well. But the city doesn't have an ordinance in place enforcing those rules.


The ordinance under consideration by the BMA Tuesday was recommended by the Tennessee Municipal League.


City Attorney Bill Phillips cautioned against adoption of the ordinance for the time being, however, at least until the board has had time to give it serious consideration.


As it is now, every facility within the Rogersville Parks and Recreation Department is operated on a "use at your own risk" basis, Phillips told the Times-News after the meeting. Similar to the swimming pool and the ball fields, if a person is injured at the skate park, the city is covered by its existing liability insurance.


"Anytime you put more requirements on the city, you also increase the city's liability," Phillips told the Times-News. "The signs (requiring helmet use) are a good thing, but once you make it an ordinance, then we're liable if someone gets in there without a helmet and gets hurt. If you say we're going to have an attendant on duty, we're going to require registration and a sticker on your helmet, we're going to require knee pads, and then the attendant doesn't catch it, we're liable.


"The best thing to do is say skate at your own risk."


Church Hill's skate park has operated for about two years with regulations similar to the sample Kingston ordinance requiring registration and stickers on the helmet. Police have ejected patrons who didn't have a helmet, but officers have admitted that they can't watch the park every minute, and it's common to find someone there without a helmet.


So far, however, no serious injuries have been reported from the Church Hill park.


Sells didn't say when he would schedule a committee to look at a potential skate park ordinance.


In other business Monday the BMA:


•Approved a $12,500 contract with Affinity Automation out of Knoxville for design of an efficiency "all electric" HVAC system for the Hale Springs Inn renovation. City Building Inspector Steve Nelson explained that by using Affinity Automation, the HVAC portion of the project can be removed from a pending 2004 Tennessee Department of Transportation renovation grant and applied to a new interest-free energy grant that the city has received from the state.


"They also have come up with a much better plan than the original engineer," Nelson told the BMA. "It's all electric, it's quiet, it's more efficient, and just a much better system."


Construction bids for the project expired last month, so the architects are currently working on specifications for new construction bids in two phases. Nelson is reluctant to suggest a timeline for bid advertising because the project has been delayed so many times in the past, but he said it's close to being ready for new bids.


•Made several appointments including Chuck Holt new to the Historic Preservation Commission; Jeff Gunter new to the Tree Board; Doug Price reappointed to the Water Commission; and the reappointment of the remaining current members of the Historic Preservation Commission.


•Approved an amendment of the city budget to allow for $83,075 to pay for construction of a new Streets Department building.


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