Let the skating begin!

Published 12:17 am Wednesday, April 2, 2003

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Today is the day so many young people in Niles have been waiting for so impatiently.
Skaters and roller bladers can finally bring their gear to the new Niles skate park and take virgin glides across the smooth concrete surface.
The skate park, which opened at 7 a.m. this morning, will stay open until 9:30 p.m., seven days a week.
With the long days of summer around the corner, even the most enthusiastic skaters will have ample opportunity to practice their skills.
On Tuesday, Joe Ray, a City of Niles Public Works engineering technician, said the park will have its official opening on a Saturday sometime later this month, but a date has not yet been set.
Only skate boarders and roller bladers will be allowed to use the ramps and glides, and people must actively do one of those things to be allowed inside the skate park, Ray said.
Bleachers holding 50 spectators are expected to arrive later this week and they will be set up as soon as they arrive, he said.
Ray reminded users that there is a list of recommendations posted on the skate park fence in regards to what safety equipment should be worn and how people should treat the skate park to keep it in good condition.
He said city workers will try to educate users to keep the place safe and clean. Several trash cans will be available at convenient spots.
Ray hopes a lot of people will come down to use the skate park, even though most people were only recently made aware of the opening.
Weather might be a factor in maintaining accessibility to the park.
Bad weather such as rain, snow and sleet will likely close down the park.
The new skate park in Niles is larger than other skate parks in the area. It has 16,000 square feet of concrete and a nine-foot drop in a certain section.
In comparison, the skate park in South Bend, Ind., only has 12,000 square feet of concrete surface, Ray said.
Because of its challenging features, Ray considers the possibility that organized skate and roller blading contests might take place at the new skate park.
Though that option would have to go through the city council first, he said.