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Safety concerns prompt Wellesley to close village skate park

Granted a reprieve earlier this summer, the makeshift skate park in Wellesley has run its course, done in by safety concerns.

Councillors meeting August 27 agreed to remove the half-pipe adjacent to the Wellesley arena on Catherine Street due to excessive deterioration and potential liabilities for the township.

A safety report conducted by Jeff Elliot Playground Inspections found that the structure had sustained significant damage over the years, particularly after it was struck by a township snowplow last winter.

The half-pipe needed railings installed, the support structure replaced, new ladders, maintenance work, and should be moved to a different location, the report notes.

The idea of removing the beloved local skate park drew in a crowd of youth and community members when the issue was first tabled June 25. Sympathetic to their plight, council agreed to defer the decision while staff explored alternatives.

Among the crowd was Ian McRuer, a Wellesley resident who has been the primary figure involved with the skate park, helping to maintain the structure and an advocate for the sport.

“After meeting with Mr. Ian McRuer onsite, Ian did reiterate the inspection report that came through from the third party inspection was accurate and that the damage to it was quite extensive, as well as the deterioration of that wood structure,” said recreation director Danny Roth.

“The amount of damage, we felt it was important to meet with Ian onsite and assess the damage with us. That wood structure was not meant to be outdoors 365 days of the year.”

The poor state of the structure also leaves the township open to numerous liabilities, said Roth. Among the issues, the ramp is set next to the brick wall of the Wellesley arena, and there’s a gas meter nearby – should anyone be injured, the responsibility could lie with the municipality.

As McRuer put his own money into the half-pipe over the years, he requested permission to disassemble the structure and take ownership.

All may not be lost for skateboard enthusiasts, however, as staff have been directed to look at skate park options for a proposed new multi-purpose facility now being investigated by the township.

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