ROGERSVILLE - Technically, the new Rogersville skate park wasn't shut down two weeks ago because as far as the city is concerned it was never officially opened. Still, for the previous month or so before the "closing" there had been dozens of local skateboard enthusiasts using the new facility at any given time, many of whom were without a helmet or pads, which were required according to a sign at the entrance.
When the skate park officially opens on April 14, however, the helmet and pads are going to be more than words on a sign - they're going to be the law.
The Rogersville Board of Mayor and Aldermen met jointly Tuesday morning with the Parks and Recreation Board to establish the official "Rules and Regulations for Use of the Skate Park."
Initially the Parks and Recreation Board approved the rules and regulations Tuesday morning, and then the BMA confirmed them.
City Hall was spared a wall-to-wall crowd of skateboard enthusiasts as Tuesday's meeting was held at 10 a.m. while school was still in session.
One of the newly approved rules requires skate park users to register with the Parks and Recreation Department, at which time they will be issued a laminated card. The skateboarders must have that card with them when they use the park, and park officials will be monitoring the park and making checks multiple times each day.
A parent or guardian will also have to sign a liability waiver before a skater under 18 is allowed to use the park.
Everyone under 18 years of age will also be required to use helmets, knee pads and elbow pads, and if they don't they could be fined $50 and/or suspended from using the park.
The main issue behind the helmet and pad requirements was liability insurance concerns presented by the city's policy holder, the Tennessee Municipal League. City Attorney Bill Phillips said he worked with the TML to establish a skate park policy that will give the city as much legal protection as possible.
"It protects us enough that our insurance underwriter is willing to underwrite the skate park," Phillips said. "The city notified the TML insurance people right off the bat that the park was being built, and once it was completed TML said we'll need some things in place for your protection and ours. Now the official opening is set for April 14."
Phillips added, "I think it was unofficially without the knowledge of a lot of people. (Media publicity) gave people notice that it was being used, but it's locked up now."
Aside from checking for registration cards, park officials will also be checking throughout the day for helmet and pad use. Although there will be no ordinance in place, skaters will be subject to a $50 fine for each helmet and pad offense.
"There's a state statute which provides that the rules and regulations of a skate park are passed by the parks and rec board, published two weeks (in the local newspaper), and then they become official," Phillips said.
The rules and regulations approved Tuesday also set out operation hours for the park. In the months of June, July and August the park will be open from noon until 10 p.m. on weekdays, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, and 1 to 6 p.m. on Sunday. There will also be a special 10-and-under-only skate session in the summer months on Wednesday from 10 a.m. until noon.
During the remaining school months, the park will be open weekdays from 3:30 until 8 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday from 1 until 6 p.m.
The skate park is located in the northeast corner of the Rogersville City Park near the intersection of Park Boulevard and Highway 11-W.