12-year-old garners support for Wrightsville Beach skate park

by Jennifer Roush
Thursday, August 16, 2007

Twelve-year-old Fisher Hardee has a vision. And its one many local residents have to build a skate park in Wrightsville Beach.

He started going door to door with a petition he made before finding it more productive to receive the help of area businesses: Surf City Surf Shop, Sweetwater Surf Shop and Caf Del Mar, where he is keeping petitions. He plans to take all his signatures to the Aug. 23 Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen meeting and the Sept. 10 Wrightsville Beach Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee meeting.

Staff photo by Joshua Curry
Fisher Hardee obtains a signature from Mike Ickes supporting construction of a skate park in Wrightsville Beach.
A skateboarder since his seventh birthday, Hardee finds limited places to skate in the area and finds it difficult to make it to the new Carolina Beach skate park.

When I want to go to a skate park, most of the time I cant because its too far for my parents to drive, he said. Id just like to have a skate park near here and come back to my house as I please.

Since skateboarding is prohibited in most places in the community, Hardee and his friends have ramps and quarter- and half-pipes at their houses.

Its harder because its a smaller area (Wrightsville Beach), he said. And surfing is more popular down here. Theres not that many places to skate at all.

Beverly Hardee of the South Harbor Island area thought that she would let her son go with the idea, which she thought would fizzle out. Instead, Fisher has taken off with it.

He got interested in it because (recently) he wanted me to take him to Carolina Beach to the skate park, she said. I said, No, Im not taking you all the way down there. He said, If Carolina Beach can get one, Wrightsville Beach can get one. Ive let him run with it. He printed out the petition he made himself.

Lisa Weeks, president of the Parks and Recreation Foundation, which is a private entity spun off of the municipal advisory committee, said her board is going to make a presentation to the board of aldermen on Aug. 23 regarding the long-term master plan for the needs of Wrightsville Beach. And one of the top 10 issues is a skateboarding facility.

One thing the residents say they wanted to see (when surveyed) was a skate park facility that allows them to go somewhere other than the tennis courts or parking lots or driveways to skateboard, she said. So that was a pretty high number of surveys (with) residents indicating thats something they want to see in some capacity. I think the residents would like to see something done.

Ted Lashley, parks and recreation director at Carolina Beach, said their liability concerns about
building a skate park were put to rest when Senate Bill 774 passed in the North Carolina General Assembly. Two months ago, the fenced-in, concrete skate park was built in Carolina Beach for $176,000. As long as they posted proper signage about protective gear and being an unsupervised park and enacted a town ordinance according to specifications, the bill states the town faces limited liability.
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