By Linwood Outlaw III - firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- After years of planning and months of construction, Warren County's new 15,000-square-foot skate park will open today.
Some avid skaters, however, couldn't wait until opening day to test out the new in-ground concrete bowls.
The skate park at 101 Kerfoot Ave. will officially open to the public at 8 a.m. It will be open from dawn to dusk, said Daniel P. Lenz, Warren County's parks and recreation director.
Construction on the facility began in September and was completed earlier this month. County officials had originally hoped to finish construction in December, but received an extension after inclement weather delayed on-site work.
The skate park has features and obstacles that are considered dangerous for skaters without advanced skills. Children under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult, officials said. Participants will also be required to wear helmets while using the park.
Some people were seen trespassing and using the park weeks before it was even finished, several county officials have said. However, bikers and skaters will be using the park at their own risk. The facility is unsupervised, and the county is not responsible for injuries, Lenz said. Users are encouraged to wear knee and elbow pads. Those caught using the skate park after it is closed will receive a trespassing citation.
Nonetheless, the skate park is a welcomed addition to a community that has long been coveting such a facility. Department of Parks and Recreation officials began discussing the possibility of a skate park committee in late 2002, and officials finally awarded a contract to Pillar Design Studios -- in conjunction with Artisan Skateparks -- to build the facility in December 2008.
Timely donations and multiple fundraising efforts also helped make the $483,000 project possible. "We're really excited for the community, especially for the kids," Lenz said. "They waited for a long time."
County Administrator Douglas P. Stanley said the finished product has been worth the wait.
"It's been a long, arduous process. And certainly, with the economy and trying to raise money, it's been difficult," Stanley said. "We're excited about opening the park and letting the kids get out here, and providing a safe, secure facility for them. No more skating in the middle of the street, no more skating on the sidewalks. We're giving them a legal place to skate."