Saratoga County

Skaters want dirt out of Saratoga Springs park bowl

Skateboard enthusiasts want the dirt removed from the skate bowl in the city’s skatepark at East Sid

Skateboard enthusiasts want the dirt removed from the skate bowl in the city’s skatepark at East Side Recreation Field and the bowl opened again to skaters.

They told city officials they are even willing to remove the dirt from the bowl themselves at no cost to the city.

“It’s the only one within 100 miles,” said Charlie Samuels of Saratoga Springs.

The city decided to fill in the skate bowl in the skatepark more than a year ago. The city had changed its skateboard park policy in early 2010 and no longer had adult supervision at the park.

“It was filled in for liability reasons and for lack of staffing,” said Mayor Scott Johnson.

The city’s insurance and risk management people said the skate bowl was the most dangerous facility at the skatepark from a liability standpoint. The skateboard park also has other features used by skateboard enthusiasts, such as ramps and skate balance beams.

Samuels recently sent a letter to city Mayor Scott Johnson asking him to consider allowing the skateboard people to remove the fill from the skate bowl.

Samuels, 50, said he has been skateboarding since 1976.

“The bowl was made specifically for skateboards in 2004,” Samuels said. He said skateboard people call it a “skateboard pool.”

“As you know I represent almost all skateboarders in the Capital Region,” Samuels said in his letter to city officials.

“We are frustrated because we have been unable to use this state-of-the-art exercise facility since it was filled with dirt last March 23,” Samuels said in his letter.

Samuels said Monday he was very pleased to hear that Johnson, other city officials, and representatives of the Saratoga Springs City School District have agreed to meet with him to discuss the skate bowl. The city school district will be invited to the meeting because its owns East Side Recreation Field but has a longterm field maintenance agreement with the city.

Johnson said Monday the yet-to-be-scheduled meeting will allow the skateboard enthusiasts to outline their wishes.

“I’m open to suggestions,” the mayor said.

He said he will schedule the meeting in the near future but wants Superintendent of Schools Janice White to be present because the school district owns the property.

Saratoga Springs was the first city in the state to have a skateboard park back in 1989, Samuels said. Today there are dozens of skateboard parks across the state.

When the park first opened at East Side Recreation Field it was supervised and users had to pay a fee.

In 2010, the city decided to open the park to skaters free of charge but have no supervision at the facility.

Samuels said that the skate park is becoming more popular. He said the park was “packed” on an afternoon earlier this month, with 22 people using it. He said there were no other people using East Side Rec for any other sport on that late afternoon.

Benj Gleeksman, 37, of Saratoga Springs said he too has been skating for 20 years and now has children are getting interested in the sport.

Gleeksman said he’s excited about getting the skate bowl opened up again. Both Samuels and Gleeksman said skateboard parks are generally unsupervised.

“You don’t need supervision,” Samuels said. “Most park don’t have [supervisors].”

The skateboard park has a sign advising skaters that they “skate at their own risk.” City officials say that, despite the sign, skaters could still sue the city if they are injured in the skate park.

Samuels said people can see photos of the skatepark and the bowl before it was filled with dirt on Facebook by typing in the words “Save the Skatepark.”

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