Appalachian Skate Park opens in Jefferson

By Mountain Times
Although the skies were gray and rain fell frequently over the weekend, the bad weather was not enough to prevent dozens of skate boarders from making their way to Ashe County Park in Jefferson to celebrate the opening of the Appalachian Skate Park.

Originally located in Boone, the Appalachian Skate Park (ASP) was purchased by Ashe County Parks and Recreation (ACPR) in July 2009 from the ASP Committee in Boone. Over the last few months, ACPR employees have worked to find the proper spot for the skate park and get the facility up and running.

The skate park officially opened on Saturday, June 12, giving a place for anyone riding skate boards or in-line skates (no bicycles) a place to jump, ollie, grind and, generally, have a good time.

"It's a good feeling to know that folks are able to get out there, use the equipment versus it sitting there unused," said Daniel Quin, athletic director for ACPR. He noted that it "took a while to get the concrete surface proper and correct" for the ramps to be set up on and to get the equipment reassembled, which required reconstructing a few pieces.

Quin noted that they considered both concrete and asphalt for the surface, but decided to go with concrete.

"It's a pleasant surface to ride on," he said.

The reopening was also a happy morning for Buzz Berry, one of the original three ASP investors in Boone who helped design the skate park.

"We really needed to provide a safe place for people to enjoy the sport," Berry said of the ASP. "We wanted to get kids - of all ages, whether they be college or adult - anyone who wanted to enjoy the sport of skateboarding to be able to go to a safe place and enjoy it. We wanted to get them off the sidewalk, out of the streets or in front of businesses and give them a designated place to be."

Berry noted that the ASP was designed for "the beginner and intermediate skater, although an advanced skater can still enjoy it" and that it was also "designed for flow, so you can get from one element to the other just by rolling across. You just keep going from one place to the other non-stop."

Regarding the move, Berry simply said "it was a happy thing that Ashe County decided they wanted to welcome it over there."

"What a beautiful location for it to be, in Ashe Park," he said. "It was great news for it to wind up in such a positive environment."

Quin said he feels the ASP will bring "a better variety of activities for park users to enjoy" in Jefferson at the 75-acre park that already features two playgrounds, athletics fields, a disc golf course, a pond for fishing and picnic shelters.

Park officials are also stressing the importance of skaters following North Carolina laws that require all users to wear safety helmets, along with knee pads and elbow pads.

"We want to make sure everyone is safe and is enjoying themselves out there," Quin said. "Part of that enjoyment is not having people get hurt. We understand that ... getting scrapes here and there is part of the sport, [because] it's an inherently dangerous sport. I grew up with a good portion of my life on a skateboard and know that.

"Again, there's proper measures to be taken to make sure nobody hurts themselves really bad and make sure everyone is using the equipment the way it was meant to be used."
Berry noted the importance of safety helmets.

"You hit your head the wrong way, and that's it," he said.

For Berry, skating is also an opportunity to help teach self-esteem and that "the only way to learn is to keep trying."

"There's a lot of life lessons in skateboarding," Berry said, "and it's a great way to meet new friends, too."

Quin said he encourages anyone who wants to "be a part of the skate park to give input and adopt the park" as their own, to "make sure that vandalism doesn't happen and rules are being followed, so the skate park will be able to permanently stay here."

For more information about the skate park or Ashe County Park, call Ashe County Parks and Recreation at (336) 982-6185.

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