Discussions begin for Jackson skatepark
Discussions for a skatepark in Jackson County are set to begin in January when Parks and Recreation Director Rusty Ellis will bring the issue to the recreation advisory board.
“I have been approached in the past about this idea and I think one of the first things that comes to mind when we think about skateparks is ramps and people jumping and doing stunts, and that is a part of some skateparks, but it’s also having a place where young people are riding skateboards and a whole host of other things,” said Chairman Brian McMahan.
At the Dec. 14 Jackson County Board of Commissioners work session, Ellis presented information about the future possibility and planning of a skatepark.
Over the past several years, interest in a skatepark in Jackson County has grown. In 2005, the recreation master plan received input from 425 residents. Of those, five said they participated in skateboarding regularly. When asked what type of recreation facilities and programs people would like to see, 26 people responded that they would like to see a skate park.
In 2013, the updated master plan received input from 763 residents. Of those, 240 said it was important to them to have a skate park in Jackson County. The recreation department has already been investigating liability issues.
“As long as we’re coming up with some kind of ordinances and statutes that y’all [board of commissioners] vote on about implementing helmets, knee pads, stuff like that. As long as we come up with a resolution for that, and it’s notated with signage, not only at the skate park, also eventually the greenway also,” said Ellis.
The recreation department has also begun to look into locations for a future park, studying other skateparks in places like Cherokee and Asheville to gain insight about occupancy and necessary elements.
“It all depends on what we’re looking at size-wise, and what we can accommodate,” said Ellis.
After Ellis presents information about a possible skate park to the recreation advisory board in January, the board will make recommendations which Ellis will bring back to the County Board of Commissioners for consideration.
“Giving kids the opportunity to get outside, and to enjoy the outdoors and to recreate and do some of those things, this is just another way so I’m glad we’re taking a look at this,” said McMahan.
Waynesville installed a skatepark at the recreation center in 2013, which at the time cost $445,000. Highlands’ skatepark, which opened in 2017, is one of the most utilized public recreation assets for the town. The project cost $220,000 when constructed. Now the town of Franklin is in the process of developing its own skatepark with the help of JE Dunn Construction, the contractor hired by HCA Healthcare to build the new Angel Medical Center.
Superintendent Steve Suttles came before the Franklin Town Council last summer offering to help the town fundraise for the project as well as offer in-kind services. The park, which is estimated to be about 6,000 square feet, will be located on the former Whitmire property, which is also now home to a disc golf course. A final cost hasn’t been determined.