Skate park closed from July till pilot program starts

Rebecca Rodriguez

[nicevideo link= “https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Idrgv4JLS5k”]Without an attendant, the skate park will close July 1. Student Affairs (SA) is working on a pilot program so the park could open for Summer B of this year.

Everett Malcolm, associate vice president for SA, said they’re certain the pilot will be running by end of Summer, but doesn’t yet know where they will get funding.

Last time the stake park was closed, skaters were not deterred. Photo by Randy Rataj
Last time the stake park was closed, skaters were not deterred. Photo by Randy Rataj.

Malcolm said an option could be through the Student Life and Service fee.

“The good thing is, the funding is in place through June 30 of this year and we’re looking at other possible pilot funding solutions to help keep the skate park open,” Malcolm said. “But it’ll only be open during the hours in which it can be funded. And it will only be open to students of UNF.”

Malcolm said this pilot will determine how many students are using the skate park and when. He said the pilot might start Summer B term this year and would continue until around November 2015.

“We would have all that [pilot] data, we would submit a funding request through the A & S [Activity and Service] fee process, to fund that [skatepark] 2015-16, and beyond,” Malcolm said.

Everett said Student Government (SG) did not want to raise the A & S fee to further tax students.

The 2014-15 A & S budget originally included funding for a park attendant, but the funds were reappropriated to athletic equipment and Spinnaker TV through an amendment by SG senator Mitchell Moore.

Malcolm said, “At the end of the day, something had to give, and it just so happened the skate park was one of the entities that did not raise to the level of funding.”

Malcolm said the issue keeping the park open is one of liability.

“Our [UNF] students have complied 100 percent with all the rules and regulations associated with the skate park. The challenge we have is non-students who come to the area and utilize our facility.”

Malcolm said the skate park is not open to the general public. Non-students have not signed waivers.

Everett Malcolm, associate vice president for Student Affairs. Photo by Rebecca Rodriguez
Everett Malcolm, associate vice president for Student Affairs. Photo by Rebecca Rodriguez.

“Signing a waiver is great. You know about the risks. Having an attendant there observing the activity is another step, and without having both of those in place, your liability becomes greater. And we want to do everything in our ability to provide a safe and secure environment for the students we serve,” Malcolm said.

Director of Campus Recreation Becky Purser said, “The only time they [students] can sign the waiver is when the attendant is on duty.”

Purser said students using the park should be signing a waiver every time they visit the park.

Malcolm said volunteer attendants could be an option, but he and the Vice President for SA, Dr Mauricio Gonzalez, would like to come up with a funding plan to run the pilot and get all data needed for the next school year, when Campus Recreation submits their budget in November.

“If it’s not tied directly to receiving compensation, sometimes as a volunteer will have the best-set intentions, but other things then take priority,” Malcolm said.

When asked why SA was responsible for discerning UNF’s liability for the skate park, he said the skate park is not a General Counsel issue. General Counsel provides guidance, pointing out risks.

“At the end of the day, it’s up to us to determine what is the best approach to provide to the best of our ability a safe and secure environment for our students,” Malcolm said.

Malcolm said signing waivers to enter the skate park has always been a practice in place since the university opened and started opening recreational activities for students.

Not all students see the need for a skate park attendant.[nicevideo link = “https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDvt-ZGfH_0”]

Daniel McCook, sociology freshman, said, “It’s [having attendants] like in elementary school when you had your teachers on the playground and they watch you playing to make sure you don’t hurt yourself. And we are adults, and that’s pure silliness.”

“Everyone’s going to look out for each other. If somebody gets hurt, people will make sure that they are okay,” McCook said.

Chemistry freshman Emilio Vargas said, “I was surprised and kind of sad because I like coming here after class and before class to skate for a little bit.”

Vargas said he comes to the skate park at least once a week. He said he never signed a waiver.

Email Rebecca Rodriguez at [email protected]