The Milton Skateboard Park is in danger of being shut down for a month at a time if skaters don't start wearing their helmets. That is the word from Milton Police Chief Greg Brand.
"It's been the rule since the park opened and it's been a problem since the park opened," Brand says.
On Monday night, the park was cleared of skaters after a Milton police officer arrived to find no one on skateboards was wearing a helmet. Brand says he was at the park this past week and talked to the skaters, warning them that helmets must be warn.
The skate park has seen other problems according to Brand, who mentions a few fights, and "multitudes" of people not there for the skating, some for hanging out smoking pot. He says there have even been problems with bicycles in the concrete bowl.
"It's not a bicycle park," he notes.
Brand says the city council made skate park rules into city ordinances, giving police the authority to enforce the rules. "I don't want my people being skateboard police, but we are not going to ignore it when they don't play by the rules. There are rules for a reason and we don't want them leaving in an ambulance.
"You don't just fall off a skateboard, it throws you down," he adds.
Parks and Recreation Chair Buddy Jordan and Brand discussed the possibility of more stringent measures to get the attention of the skaters. "We are considering potentially closing the park for a month at a time if they don't start wearing them. They have one of the best skateboard parks in the Panhandle and all we ask is that they wear helmets and follow the rules."
Brand says he has spent as much as 40 minutes with the skaters, talking to them at the park and the response has been, "there is nowhere around here to buy a helmet" or "we can't afford a helmet". He adds, "(The city has) no fund for helmets. If enough kids needed them, I'd like to see us find money to help."
Brand says some skaters who are over the age of 18 have mentioned they don't need helmets, but he says age is not a factor. "Everyone needs to wear one."
"We would like them to wear knee, wrist and elbow pads, but those are not required."
Brand points out that a security guard was posted at the park when it first opened, but was discontinued for financial reasons. "It would be nice if the Police Benevolent Association could get involved, not just send someone out as security, but to interact with the kids."
The Milton Skate Park is located at the community center on Byrom St. The skate park was built in 2007 and cost $300,000 - paid for by the city. It is the only is the only free concrete park in the area and was designed with the help of Team Pain.
Brand says, ultimately, it is the safety of the skaters. On Sept. 28, 2012, a skater not wearing a helmet received a concussion when he fell. Officials say the city's insurance company was notified of the incident. The current condition of the skater is unknown.