Fearless Flyers Go Vertical

Most people don’t realize that poor construction is the top cause of unexpected accidents at a skate park. Bumpy transitions throw skaters off balance. Uneven or gapped seams cause falls. Rough surfaces make it hard to skate, and create unpredictable momentum changes. Overly slippery conditions are dangerous as well.

To limit unanticipated falls due to collisions, the park is divided into separate areas. While this slows the flow of the park slightly, it ensures that inexperienced skaters don’t come into contact with experienced ones. The park design avoids visual obstructions so that skaters can see each other crossing between areas. Lastly, a 10-foot grass area was placed around the park, giving skaters plenty of room to take soft falls before hitting the perimeter fence.

Protecting Noggins

Since the gates opened, the Ian Tilmann Skate Park has integrated the free-helmet program. The park is located directly across from the Safety Harbor Community Center, which not only allows staff to keep an eye on the park’s visitors, but also is a great place for skaters to pick up free loaner helmets or register to receive a free personal helmet from The Ian Tilmann Foundation Inc. Personal helmets are made available for pickup within a few business days.

The park’s policy is that all skaters must wear a helmet with a chinstrap. Skate-park visitors are required to register at the community center and sign a consent form and release agreement. An adult must accompany anyone under the age of 8.

The skate park was the first park of its type for the city, and it was the first park to really put safety first. Within the initial year of operation, the free-helmet program distributed more than 450 helmets. The successful program laid a foundation for expansion to other public and private skate parks around the state and beyond.

Originally installed in 2005, the skate park has stood the test of time and continues to be a popular feature of this city park. The one-of-a-kind skate park has “greatly benefited the community,” according to Norwood. “We’ve hosted approximately 500 registered participants, ranging in age from 4 to 40 since the opening. It’s a safe place where kids can let loose, and we’re proud to have it in Safety Harbor.”

Sharon Heal Eichler, RLA, ASLA, LEED AP, is a Senior Landscape Architect with Wade Trim, Inc.–a leading engineering, landscape-architecture and planning firm with 19 offices in eight states. She can be reached at (813) 882-8366 or via e-mail at seichler@wadetrim.com.

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  1. All Smiles
  2. The Skatepark Decision, Part 1
  3. Horsepower
  4. Creating A Skatepark
  5. Feeling Minnesota

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