By Linwood Outlaw III - firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- Warren County officials have tightened up penalties for people who use the county's new skatepark without first putting on a helmet and placing pegs on their bikes.
The Parks and Recreation Department will hold a special ceremony on Saturday at 3 p.m. to officially celebrate the grand opening of the 15,000-square-foot skatepark at 101 Kerfoot Ave. However, the facility has been open to public use for more than a month.
Construction on the $483,000 facility began in September and was delayed because of bad weather. County officials had greatly anticipated the skatepark's completion and believe it has the potential to be one of the premier recreational facilities of its type on the East Coast.
Avid skaters also couldn't wait for the facility to open, as some were spotted trespassing and using the park before it was even finished, county officials have said. People will be using the skatepark at their own risk, as it will be unsupervised. The county also will not be responsible for injuries.
According to revised guidelines provided by Parks and Recreation Director Daniel P. Lenz on Friday, visitors who do not wear a helmet or use pegs -- safety devices attached to a bike's axle -- will face a four-week suspension from the skatepark on a first offense. A second offense could result in a six-month suspension, and a third offense carries a one-year suspension from the park, according to the guidelines.
Suspension guidelines do not eliminate the possibility of legal action, and failure to comply with regulations of the skatepark could possibly result in suspension from all of the county's recreational facilities, officials said.
Lenz said officials have issued a minimal amount of warning and suspension letters thus far. "The [skate] park is going exceptionally well. Of course, during the day, it's usually the older kids [who are using it] because of school being out," Lenz said.
The dedication ceremony will feature professional skating demonstrations, live music and food vendors, according to the skatepark's official website.