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Helmet scofflaws, vandals jeopardize skate park

(ran East edition)

The city's skateboard park, which opened last year under great anticipation and fanfare, might be in danger of closing.

Police Chief Russell Barnes told City Council members on Monday that vandalism is becoming a problem, and worse, many kids are not wearing the required helmets.

Barnes said a $300 sign posting park rules had been stolen. Police responded by temporarily closing the park, which upset some of the kids, who then identified the offenders.

Barnes said the parents of the kids who took the sign agreed to pay to replace it.

But of greater concern is the helmet issue.

"We are considering closing the skateboard park if the issue of wearing helmets becomes too much of a problem," Barnes said. "The problem is liability for the city."

Barnes said police have posted another sign warning park users that it could close permanently if the rules are disregarded.

The skateboard park, situated in Krusen Field, opened in June at a cost of about $85,000. It is the first permanent skate park in east Pasco.

The grand opening drew nearly 300 kids who eagerly took to the park's modular steel ramps and obstacles.

Use of the park is free, but the city requires a notarized consent form to be on file for each child and that users wear a helmet with a city decal affixed to it.

Barnes said he drove by the park Monday and saw about a dozen kids skating but none wearing a helmet. He locked it up early.

"We are working on it," he said.

In other council news:

Impact fees win initial nod

Council members gave initial approval to new impact fees for police and fire service. Impact fees are charged to builders on new construction. They then typically pass costs on to home buyers.

The city already assesses transportation and park impact fees, and is scheduled to begin charging a library fee in cooperation with Pasco County.

The public safety fees, which will be brought back for two periods of public comment, are $273 per house for fire protection and $254 per house for police protection.