South Kitsap Skatepark opened today, after six years of planning and nearly eight months of construction. Immediately the place was filled with jubilent skateboarders and trick bike riders, according to Kitsap Sun reporter Brynn Grimley, who passed the park on her way home earlier.
Tomorrow (Saturday) there will be a grand opening celebration.
As work on the park was under way in January, I heard from James Gates, a local resident concerned with personal safety. More than one member of Gates’ family has had head injuries related to skateboarding.
“I am in favor of a park, but not in favor of accidents that are preventable,” Gates said.
The county, which owns the skatepark at South Kitsap Regional Park, does not require helmets. Signs are posted recommending use of helmets and knee pads. Those signs confer “recreational immunity” on the county from anyone who would sue over injuries from use of the skatepark, according to Ric Catron, the county’s parks project manager.
Catron is from Oregon, where helmets are required by law for bike riders and skateboarders under 16. Earlier this year a bill, now dead, proposed to raise the age to 18.
Catron was surprised by Washington’s lack of a similar helmet law. In Oregon, where Catron also worked in parks development, violators could be fined, heftily. Some jurisdictions confiscated skateboards from those who neglected the law.
Gates thinks South Kitsap Skatepark Association, a major donor to the skatepark, should take the lead in educating young skateboarders about the importance of helmets, and, Gates said, they should lead by example. Mike VanDenBergh one of the SKSPSA’s leaders said he always wears a helmet and has his children, Ethan, 13, and Sophie, 11, do so as well.
At the event Saturday, professional skateboarders will be giving tips. It will be interesting to see if safety is emphasized in their lessons.
Parents, do you make your children wear helmets? Do you wear them yourself?