|Buzz Berry Speaks Out About Skate Park Closure|
|Written by Adam Hicks|
|Tuesday, 02 June 2009 09:30|
When Watauga County Commissioners voted unanimously yesterday to close the Watauga County Skate Park, the county’s parks and recreation director, Stephen Poulos, said the reasons for closing the park were because of a lack of use and countywide budget issues. One of the founders of the skate park told High Country Radio his side of the story.
Buzz Berry, host of Sqrambled Scuares and a lifelong skateboarder, helped organize the creation of the Watauga County Skate Park. Berry opened up about how he feels about the Watauga County Commissioners’ decision to close the park.
Berry said, “It’s a shame that the park will no longer exist because it’s been such a good thing for the community.” he explained that the skate park gave skateboarders a place where they could skate legally without worrying about being fined by the Town of Boone.
When asked about liability issues at the skate park, Berry said according to a state statute, if the county were to post a sign stating users of the park would be skating at their own risk, but must wear the proper safety equipment, the county would not be liable for any injuries that may be incurred at the park. Berry explained the county became liable for skaters when they hired a skate park attendant. Berry said, “It says if you put an attendant out there, you are liable. So they’re not even supposed to put an attendant out there with this statute. To put an attendant out there, it actually negates that 99E-23 statute that releases them of liability.”
Although he may not agree with the state statute about elbow and knee protection, Berry said he doesn’t blame the county or the parks and recreation department for the state’s regulations. Berry explained, “If I were to ask you to go out there and ride a bicycle wearing knee pads, or play tennis wearing knee pads, it should be your choice. But, that’s not the county’s fault. We need to make sure that [everyone knows] nobody is saying the county’s at fault here. That’s just that statute. That’s on the books.”
Berry said he believes there will be a time when Watauga County will once again have a skate park and explained, “There will be a time in the future when we will be looking to put a skate park back in this community. Once we get different commissioners and a different parks and rec. director, there will be another skate board park in the future.”
Berry said he and other organizers for the skate park were simply trying to serve the community. He said, “I have been so mistreated and so disrespected by the rec. commission… it’s unbelievable. We just tried to do something good unselfishly.”
Berry said the skate park is expected to remain open until Sunday. According to Watauga County Manager Rocky Nelson, all personal equipment must be removed within 30 days.
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