Organizers: Park will stay open

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:12

    SPARTA-The new skate park is not in jeopardy of being permanently closed down, according to the committee that helped build it. Robin Warrington, president of the Sparta Skate Park Committee, said committee members will do whatever it takes to keep the park open. The committee is still looking to receive donations to help finish the complex. "A great deal of time, money and effort has gone into the skate park, and closing it down indefinitely is simply not an option," said Warrington. "We will do everything in our power to keep it open." Warrington's remarks came in response to a story that ran in last week's Sparta Independent in which township officials were quoted as saying the park would be temporarily closed down if skaters did not use proper safety padding and helmets. "If 90 percent of the people in the park are not (wearing protective equipment), we will be forced to padlock it," said last week Township Manager Henry Underhill. For her part, Warrington said the combined efforts of both the park ranger and Sparta Police Department are the first steps to assure that users of the park are taking proper safety precautions. Hoping that the authorities will help stop solve the problem, she said that a temporary closure would only come about if the problem persisted to help get the attention of park users. In a worst case scenario, in which skaters continue to not wear helmets, the committee would look into the possibility of paying a person to stand at the park and make sure skaters are abiding by park rules. The skate park has been open for nearly two months and is about three-quarters of the way complete, according to its planned design. So far, $108,000 has been donated to help pay for the construction of the facility. About $55,000 is still needed to finish the project. Warrington said that she is extremely pleased with the park's success so far. The facility has helped to take skaters off township roads and sidewalks, and that users have gotten along peacefully and have not caused any problems. She also looks forward to a renovation in June that will be made with whatever money is raised between now and then. "The more complete the park is, the more likely it is that users will comply with the rules," said Warrington. She said that she cannot even imagine the option of closing it indefinitely because of how positive the park has been for the community. "Last week's article came as a shock to people that put money into the park," said Warrington. "Who's going to contribute money to something that is going to closed down?"