Originally published for: Print Journalism class assignment
A new skate park in Fredericton is surrounded by controversy after the city installed metal ramps that critics say are unsafe for riders. The Mitch Clarke Nasis Park opened on the North Side last month, and was immediately criticized for using metal equipment instead of concrete.
“I’d much rather fall on concrete than on a 90-degree angle piece of metal,” says Robert Nicholson.
Nicholson says he’s already heard of people getting hurt using the metal equipment, and that one person suffered a deep cut near their ribs.
Nicholson has been an avid skateboarder for ten years. He currently works at East Side Board Supply in Downtown Fredericton, and says his manager was supposed to help consult with city planners on the park.
“I don’t know what happened along the lines, but he got put in the closet,” says Nicholson.
Nicholson says that the planners were uninformed about skateboarding and similar sports. He believes that the design and execution was rushed, resulting in a cramped area and dangerous ramps.
Dylan Papazian-Clare rides his bike at the park, and says he and his friends have no problems with the equipment. He says they
enjoy having another place to ride in the city, and that the new park was a long time coming.
“I’m really happy that the skate park is here,” he says.
Papazian-Clare says he’s heard the criticism about the metal ramps, but does not agree with it.
“It’s a skate park, so it’s already a liability in the first place,” he says.
He acknowledges that freestyle sports like skateboarding and BMX biking are dangerous in their very nature, and even experienced riders can get hurt. He says that people ride at their own risk.
“It’s just a part of the sport,” he says.
However, Nicholson says it’s not just injuries he’s concerned about. He says metal equipment is also much louder than concrete, and that the new ramps are a nuisance, especially after hours.
“There are just going to be kids there all night banging on it,” he says. “My heart goes out to the neighbours, because it’s not fun.”
He notes that noise is a small concern compared to safety, which he will continue to fight for. He says he’s especially concerned about young or inexperienced riders who will use the park and are at a greater risk for injury.
Papazian-Clare says that all riders need to know what they’re getting into before they use the ramps. Skate parks like the Mitch Clarke Nasis are unsupervised, and the community cannot be held responsible for injuries. He says that injuries are learning experiences in freestyle sports.
“You’re going to have to start somewhere,” says Papazian-Clare. “I broke my collarbone the first year I was riding.”
Nicholson knows that riders will use the park regardless, but says that is no reason for the equipment to stay.
“Hopefully we can resolve this situation, but unfortunately right now it’s a terrible park and people are going to get injured.”