OC Skate Park Study Will Help City Council Determine New Budget - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

OC Skate Park Study Will Help City Council Determine New Budget

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OCEAN CITY, Md. – A new report that tracks how much people use a skate park in Ocean City may persuade some city council members to forego park reduction hours as part of a new budget.

Ocean City's Parks and Recreation reports an average of 31 skaters per day at the Ocean Bowl Skate Park. According to the report, there were more than 10,000 visits to the Ocean Bowl in 2013, which generated $55,194 in revenue.

 The study comes on the heels of talks, among some council members last year, about closing the skate park during the week to save money. If the council stuck to the plan, it would have went into effect the Tuesday after Labor Day weekend.

 Also, the park would have only been open on the weekends, holidays and all school days off in Worcester County. The park would have been closed during January and February as well.

The council didn't go through with the plan after the public voiced outrage about changes to the park's operations. Last year the council voted to form a Skate Board Committee, comprised of stakeholders and members of the community. The committee was assigned to work with town officials to help reach a compromise.

Matthew Swiderski, 23, is one of those people who use the skate park frequently. He has been skateboarding since he was 10 years old.

"It's just something I do to relieve some stress," Swiderski said. " I don't play as many team sports as I use to, so now it's just nice to come here and do this; something competitive to do with my friends."

Swiderski loves to surf, but since that is not an option this time of year, he said skateboarding is the next best thing.

"Even though it's cold, it's still one of the things that you can do here when it's cold," Swiderski said. "It's better than being on the boardwalk where it's colder."

16-year-old Brett Hefner drives one hour to skate with his friends. He does not want the skate park's operations to undergo change.

"They've got to keep it open," Hefner said. "This is where me and all my friends go."

Council member Brent Ashley is against some of his colleagues' plans to make changes to park hours or closures. He said only a small portion of the city's budget is used to keep the park running with normal hours.

"Any attempt to curtail hours of this skate board park; I'm totally against it," said Ashley, as he looked over the spectator box down to see the skaters. " I'm going to strenuously oppose it as I did last year."

"This is who we [Ocean City Council] work for, " said Ashley, pointing at the skaters. " This is what it's all about."

  The commission will review more data on park usage next month.

    The Skate Park Committee will meet in April to prepare for budget discussions in Ocean City.

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