All Smiles

Many people don’t like to have their picture taken, especially when it comes to photo ID badges. But the parks and recreation staff members in St. Lucie County, Fla., found an exception to that rule when it began requiring photo ID badges for the Lawnwood Skate Park.

“The younger skaters (under age 10) think ID cards are rad,” says Debra Brisson, St. Lucie County Parks and Recreation director. “Usually it’s the first photo ID that they have ever gotten, kind of like a first driver’s license.”

When the department opened its concrete skate park in June 2008, cards were required for all skateboarders and inline skaters to make sure liability waivers were signed and on file. Access into the park is free, and random checks ensure skaters are following the rules. Helmets and shirts are required attire for skaters at all times. Elbow and knee pads are optional, but recommended.

After the first year of operation, county staff members decided that the skate cards weren’t working. When employees checked on skaters who weren’t wearing helmets, they had no way to determine the true identity of the skater. If a skater’s privileges were revoked, he or she found a way around the system and back into the skate park.

“We went to photo ID cards because skaters were passing IDs to others, which meant–in some instances–skaters were using the park without having a liability waiver on file,” Brisson explains. “Also, this allows our staff to go out to complete random checks for cards and truly learn who the skaters are. In the past, some skaters were giving wrong names if they were caught doing something against the park rules.”

Overhead And Revenue

The photo ID cards cost $10 for county residents and $20 for non-residents, and they are valid for one calendar year. Visitors also can purchase a one-day pass for $5 (no photo ID necessary; however, a signed waiver is still required). In addition, any county student who receives free lunch through the school system can obtain a skate card at no cost. Those under the age of 18 must have a parent or legal guardian with them when registering. The cards are issued by the county’s parks and recreation department, which is housed directly in front of the skate park. Copies of the liability waiver are available on the county’s Web site (www.stlucieco.gov/parks/skatepark.htm). The ID cards required the department to purchase a small camera and a printer to issue the cards at a cost of roughly $3,500. In 2009, when the photo ID skate cards were introduced, more than 1,100 cards were issued (908 to St. Lucie County residents and 250 to non-residents). Halfway through 2010, 422 resident cards have been issued along with151 non-resident cards.

Safe And Secure

“Generally, the reaction to photo ID cards has been good,” Brisson adds. “Parents love that we require them because they provide an additional level of security.”

Due to staff limitations, the skate park is primarily unsupervised. However, staff members monitor the park by randomly stopping by to check IDs. When heavy traffic is expected–such as spring break or the first few weeks of summer–a staff person is temporarily assigned to check photo IDs at the gate. Gates to the fenced-in facility open at 8 a.m. and close at dusk. Additional security is provided via video cameras, mounted on the recreation center in front of the skate park.

“You have to have some oversight at a skate park–either paid staff or volunteers to help monitor activities and enforce the rules,” says Brisson. “Otherwise, you can quickly lose the park to undesirables. It is also important to have the support of local law enforcement to assist in random checks. Their support really helps to set the tone of what is going to be acceptable behavior at the skate park.”

Design And Build

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