Frankford youth ask for help on skatepark

Five boys were skateboarding in the Frankford fire hall parking lot in the minutes before the Frankford Town Council’s meeting was to begin just down the street on May 1.

By the time the meeting began, the boys were seated in the back row of the council chambers, skateboards at their feet.

They were there, as it turns out, at the suggestion of Frankford Police Chief Mark Hudson, who had heard their frustrations about not having a dedicated space for skateboarding anywhere nearby.

“Kids are getting yelled at” for skateboarding in the municipal lots, said Derek Check, a 12-year-old Selbyville Middle School student who did most of the talking for the group. “I want to design a place where we can all have a place of our own to skateboard at,” Check told the council. He said he envisions a spot “where we can have fun, and meet new people and get exercise.”

Members of the council and the audience questioned the teens about their hopes for a spot where they could skateboard. They discussed facilities in Ocean City, Md., and in Rehoboth Beach. Councilman Greg Welch brought up concerns about liability for the Town if a skateboarder were to be injured while skating in a Town-sanctioned park.

Mayor Joanne Bacon and resident Liz Carpenter echoed the concerns about liability.

“For that to be something we would actually consider, we would have to do a lot of talking about liability,” Bacon said.

Carpenter encouraged the group to talk to people at other parks, find out how they are funded and supervised, and marshal as much community help as they can.

“Ask them, ‘How did you pay for it?’ ‘How did you get it to work?’ and then come back to us with all of that information, and we’ll see how we can help you make it come true,” Carpenter said.

Councilman Skip Ash said he would bring up the issue with the Frankford Volunteer Fire Company to see if they could help in any way.

“It’s a great idea,” Welch said, adding, however, that “it would take a whole lot to develop something like that. If you can get together and work on getting something together, if you can find a place that’s available, that’s closely suited to your needs… that would help.” Welch said there are paved areas in the town park that might be suitable, but that the Town would need an attendant to supervise activity in a skatepark.

It was mentioned that other parks don’t have attendants but do ask those who skate there to sign waivers releasing the property owners from any liability in case of injury.

Carpenter and Hudson praised the boys for their initiative.

“I give you guys a lot of credit for coming to a meeting and talking in front of a lot of adults you don’t know. It takes a lot of guts,” Carpenter said.

Hudson said he was very pleased that the boys followed up on his suggestion to talk to the council.

In other business, the council on May 1 approved a year’s lease of the old town hall building at 5 Main Street to the Southeast Community Assistance Project (SECAP), for $600 per month. SERCAP is a “quasi-governmental” agency. According to the SERCAP website, the agency helps low-income individuals with water, wastewater, housing and community development issues.

Welch and Ash were thanked for the work they had done to prepare the old town hall for new tenants. The building has also been painted and new carpet installed. Meanwhile, the Town has completed the moving of its offices to 9 Main Street, in the former J.P. Court building, which the Town owns.

The council on May 1 also approved the expenditure of $2,800 for appraisals of 5 Main Street and 11 Frankford Avenue (the former police department and warehouse).

The Town has set its first budget hearing for the 2018-fiscal-year budget for 7 p.m. on June 5.

The council on May 1 also heard concerns from resident Dean Esham, who claimed the Town has not been collecting its business license fees and rental taxes. He said that, unless the Town is more diligent in that area, he does not think it is fair to collect the fees and taxes from anyone else, including himself.

Councilman Marty Presley commented, “I’m ashamed to say it, but that’s news to me. If it’s a legal obligation, everybody should pay it. If not, we should end it.”

The discussion led to comments about the need for a town manager to oversee that and other issues.

Resident Kathy Murray said, “This is just another reason why this Town needs a town manager. You need to cut your ties with some of these consultants and put your money toward a town manager.”

Representing Envision Frankford, Murray also announced that the Town will show movies in the park on June 30 (“The Secret Life of Pets”), July 28 (“Trolls”) and Aug. 25 (“Lego Batman”).