Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024 |
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Volcano community members are asking the county to reopen the Volcano Skate Park after nearly two years of closure.
The skate park, located next to the Cooper Center, closed at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, but now that county gyms and indoor facilities have reopened, many in the community are asking why the skate park remains closed.
“There are a lack of options for kids living in Volcano,” said Volcano resident Evanitta Paiva. “Kids are sneaking into the building anyway, so I feel we should get together to fix any safety problems and open this up for the community.”
Officials have expressed safety concerns over the condition of the wooden skate park that was built more than 20 years ago.
The Parks and Recreation Department conducted an inspection of the skate park Aug. 4, and have since organized two community meetings over Zoom with the Volcano community to discuss the findings and practical solutions.
“I’m committed to holding monthly community meetings until we can come up with a viable solution, with community input, concerning the skate park,” said Parks and Recreation Director Maurice Messina. “I cannot allow the skate park to reopen until all of the safety concerns are addressed.”
Part of the issue comes from deteriorating conditions that result in exposed edges at the adjacent wood sheets, irregular speed conditions and exposed metal fasteners.
While engineered wood sheets can be formed to create simple, unidirectional curved surfaces, it is less likely to form complex, multidirectional curved surfaces, such as a bowl, for skateboarding.
According to Messina, a dynamic, wooden skate park would increase the level of detail and expertise of craftsmanship required to piece together the wood components, and requires significantly more fasteners to secure in place with the potential for more raised screw heads.
“The overwhelming majority of the skate park’s skating surfaces are skinned with a Masonite-type hardboard that is fastened in place with flat-headed wood screws,” Messina said. “We estimate that about half of all the exposed fasteners are not countersunk properly and are either flush within the surface or sit above the surface. Countersinking of the screws is critical to avoid causing skaters to fall off their boards and also causing serious injury to skaters when they slide on the wood.”
Also a concern are the structural members of the covered play court facility, which are exhibiting signs of considerable deterioration and require immediate attention to ensure the facility can be preserved for use.
Any cutting and welding work necessary for repair or replacement of portions of the steel components will require removal of the combustible wood framing elements of the skate park, according to Messina.
“Community members have expanded the skate park over time to incorporate more skating elements positioned at greater heights,” Messina said in an email. “These newer, elevated components not only increase risk over the original scope of the skate park for skaters, but they have the unintended consequence of providing greater access to the upper steel structure of the covered play court.”
Although the county allowed volunteers to build the skate park more than 20 years ago with the understanding they would maintain it with their own resources, this particular skate park is high maintenance and volunteer efforts have seemingly waned over time.
“While some of these can be fixed and don’t require significant funding, they will require a dedicated group of volunteers with above-average carpentry skills to maintain going forward,” Messina said. “However, there are conditions that will require considerably more effort, skill and funding to accomplish.”
Messina and other county officials have suggested designing and building a permanent concrete skate park that the county could better service over time.
Although many members of the community are not opposed to a concrete skate park, meeting attendees made it clear that they want the skate park to open sooner rather than later.
“During the meeting, Maurice estimated that building a concrete skate park would take roughly three to five years,” Paiva said. “With the lack of options for people to enjoy in our community, many of us are not happy with that timeline.”
Paiva also said many community members want to help preserve the only wooden skate park on the Big Island.
“A majority of people who came to the meeting believe it would be quicker to save the structure that is still there,” Paiva said. “People feel connected to it, and no one was happy to hear about plans for it to be torn down.”
Parks and Recreation plan to keep hosting meetings with the community to come up with a plan to fix the facility and build a permanent skating structure.
“One of our biggest issues is funding, so we’re creating public and private partnerships and working with communities to get these things done,” Messina said. “We look forward to our continued discussions with the Volcano community to find feasible solutions, as recreational resources are limited in this community.”
Email Kelsey Walling at email@example.com
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