Decision Points

United we stand on skate park

Warning: Long post ahead.

We had 45 skaters and parents and half a dozen City staff meet this morning (Tuesday, Aug. 21) at the Clay Madsen Recreation Center to talk about the problems facing Round Rock's skate park. The atmosphere was fantastic. There was very little finger pointing or complaining. The focus was on what we -- and we do mean WE -- have to do create a family-friendly, safe, inviting environment at the park. Clearly, this is an effort that will succeed when city staff, especially from parks and police, work hand in hand with skaters and their families. Everyone wants the same thing: a park that's a pleasure to skate and hang out at, no matter your age.

Parks and Recreation Director Rick Atkins opened with a presentation of the problems the park has faced -- vandalism, trash and criminal mischief, primarily. He then outlined some of the planned improvements for the park:

  • Trails
  • Footpaths to the skate park as part of a playscape that will be constructed between the skate park and the basketball court
  • A new gate at the south end of the park (an idea much welcomed by skaters. Many kids had been hopping the fence there to avoid getting their shoes muddy, which resulted in damage to the fence. Muddy shoes make it difficult to skate safely.)
  • Water fountains
  • Removal of the pavilion from the area north of the skate park. The pavilion used to provide shade for the former playscape, which has been removed. It now gives people a place to hang out that is out of sight from the parking lot behind the rec center. It simply attracts the wrong kind of behavior now, so we're taking it out.

It's worth noting here something we didn't bring up in the meeting. The skate park is actually a component of a larger project: the Greater Lake Creek Park Development. We did the skate park first because there was so much demand from skaters we didn't want to hold it up while the rest of the project was under design. So the playscape, water fountains, trails, etc., have always been planned. The skate park has been so popular that the problems created by lack of footpaths, water fountains, etc., have really been exacerbated.

Among the City's other recommendations are:

  • Increasing park staff and police presence at the park
  • Banning consumption of alcohol and tobacco at the park
  • Trash pick up events

We then broke out into small groups to brainstorm other suggestions. A common theme was for skaters to set a positive example by picking up trash and behaving responsibly. Another idea was to create a skate park team, comprised primarily of skaters, that would monitor the park on a regular basis and maybe conduct trash pick up events. All agreed we need to do a better job of communication on skate park issues.

Here's the list of points brought up by the small groups:

  • Proactive vs. reactive
  • Communication between All!
  • Accountability
  • Construction of skate park constitution
  • Volunteering (parental and older skater population)
  • Taking pride in the fact that this facility is available to us ... and if we can make this successful the possibility of future skate parks
  • No Bikes ...
  • Add recycle bins
  • Lock the gate
  • No warning when lights go out (10 minute warning needed)
  • More police presence at night
  • Free decks for clean up go-getters
  • Remove "no food and drinks" rule from sign -- it undermines credibility of other rules
  • Plug in security cameras
  • Every 2-4 hours "clean-up" sign with clean schedule
  • Signage promoting positive behavior
  • Later [hours] for adults
  • Self patrolling by skate team with t-shirts
  • People not being respectful to property should be disciplined -- up to CTW (criminal trespass warning)
  • Bleachers for observers
  • Skate at own risk on registration waiver
  • Entrance improvements (jumping fence because of muddy conditions)
  • Helmets
  • Schedule to accommodate different age groups
  • Bolt trash/heavier -- more permanent
  • Register -- name, address, emergency contact or sign in each time. Pull cards
  • BMX sessions or scheduled times
  • Emergency phone outdoors
  • Park police
  • Designated smoking section or pavilion to sit and take a break
  • Fix the cameras (we know they don't work)
  • Sign with number to contact police (text ability)
  • Back pavilion: really bad stuff going on
  • Fund raisers
  • Drug/cigarette man -- arrest
  • Bike rack (no bikes at all in gates)
  • Fountains (more than 1)
  • Officers with rapport
  • Most trash in evenings
  • Suggestion box at Matt's (Mustache Skateboards)?
  • Recycling bins
  • More tables outside gate
  • Gate at front
  • Rubber tables (picnic)
  • Razor wire, alligators

We'll be evaluating these suggestions in coming days and weeks. Some are easy and quick to accomplish, like recycling bins. Others will take more time. We're open to any and all suggestions. If you couldn't make the meeting but want to provide input, this blog is the place to do it.

Thanks to everyone who came out to the meeting. Those who did got cool T-shirts that read "Thrash It, Don't Trash It." Thanks to Matt Messner from Mustache Skateboards for his help in publicizing the meeting and encouraging skaters to bring positive attitudes to the meeting. They did. That positive vibe, as Matt noted at the meeting, needs to be firmly established at the skate park. Today's meeting was the first step in making that happen.


wcsportscorner said:

I'm sorry I was not able to attend but am very pleased to hear about the large number of attendees and the reported fantastic atmosphere.  

KUDOS to everyone who was able to attend and provide feedback and suggestions.  I look forward to the park re-opening.

# August 21, 2007 10:30 PM

marsi said:

I hope that all points that were taken in consideration will be followed.

# May 29, 2009 11:06 PM
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