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Skaters give North Laurel skate park thumbs up

After being open nearly a year, skateboarders are mostly pleased with the North Laurel Community Center's outdoor skate park, which Howard County opened last June.

The 12,000-square-foot park opened June 3, 2011 along with the rest of the $25 million North Laurel Community Center. The skate park is mostly made of concrete and has metal rails and stone boulders at different places throughout the park. One end of the park has a covered sitting area where skateboarders can rest or watch each other perform tricks on the various ramps, rails, boxes and curved pool.

"The rocks are the best part for me," said Ethan Berg, 28, who frequents the park. The boulders in the park are from nearby Savage Quarry.

Skate parks need to be the right size to accommodate the regular crowds and to insure proper spacing between all their obstacles, said Berg.

"It's all about the ratio," he said. "Sometimes there's too many people or too many obstacles in a park and it gets too crowded in there so you have people getting in each other's way."

The North Laurel skate park has good spacing between its obstacles and gives it a good flow, which allows skaters to transition from one obstacle to another, according to Berg.

Many of the skaters appreciate the freedom the park offers.

"It's free, you don't have to wear pads and we come and go as we want," said Rodney Jones, 33. "That's the way it should be. There shouldn't be all these restrictions just to skate around."

Some area parks, such as Greenbelt Skate Park and Charm City Skate Park in Baltimore charge an entrance fee or require membership. Many parks in the area do not require helmets or pads.

"I've really only seen minor injuries here," said skateboarder David Fent, 19. "One guy broke his arm a while back but that was it."

Some skateboarders use skate parks as an alternative to skating in the streets, which can land them in trouble or cause safety concerns.

"You don't have to worry about people bothering you" in the park, said Berg. "In the streets, if you're using something it might be someone's property, they have the right to stop you. You don't know how much time you have."

The gated park is open from 7 a.m. until dusk every day, but some skateboarders said they would like the park to be open later.

"A lot of people don't get off (work) till late at night," said Fent. "I'd put lights" at the park.

The skate park also has its own Facebook fan page. Skateboarders use the page to discuss the park, possible events or to post notices about lost or forgotten items.

Some skateboarders think the year-old skate park shows that local government is beginning to understand their needs.

"It's about time the older generation learned to understand team sports are out," said Jones. "It's all about individuality."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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