Residents who spoke out at a hearing on next year’s budget had one request from Cary leaders: fund a new ramp at the town’s lone skate park.
A 13-foot-tall vert ramp, to be exact.
Cary is in the process of drafting a budget for next fiscal year, which begins July 1. The Town Council held a public hearing on Thursday to give residents a chance to weigh in on budget priorities.
A former skate pro, men with gray hair, a 9-year-old boy and a mom holding her baby were among the two dozen SK8-Cary supporters who filled the council chambers.
It was the second year in a row they pleaded their case before the council. The $110,000 ramp didn’t make it into this year’s $15.5 million parks and recreation budget.
SK8-Cary operates at a deficit each year, which is common for town facilities.
But the skate park would become more attractive to users if the town would install a steep ramp for tricks, said 17-year-old Josiah Pierce.
“Putting this vert ramp in would be transforming SK8-Cary into something like the USA Baseball Training Complex (in Cary),” he said.
Pierce echoed others who said a vert ramp would make SK8-Cary comparable to Mount Trashmore in Virginia Beach, Va., a well-known skate park.
“These vert ramps are few and far between,” Pierce said. “For Cary to be boasting one of these vert ramps is a big deal, and people will flock to this skate park because of it.”
SK8-Cary opened in 2002 in Robert V. Godbold Park off NW Maynard Road and is run by the town’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department. Ramps, mini-ramps, rails and ledges cover the 12,000-square-foot park – but nothing as big as the ramp Cary is considering.
Some said they worry advanced skaters will stop improving or go elsewhere if SK8-Cary doesn’t offer more challenging ramps.
“This is one of the best (parks) we have skated at,” said Bob Skillman. “But there’s maybe 12 guys that are ready to go to the next level. I would hate to see these guys have to go elsewhere to advance their skills.”
For others, the skate park represents more than a place for exercise and recreation. It’s a place where kids go to learn under the wing of tutors.
“I think it’s an awesome investment what Cary’s done so far with the park,” said Brian Wainwright, a former professional in-line skater. “The environment that exists of encouraging the kids and (to) overcome challenges … it’s just amazing to watch.”
Beth Warner-Sullivan said staff members at SK8-Cary are “like family” to her kids.
“There is nothing my kids love more than skateboarding,” she said, her voice cracking.
Then there was 9-year-old Gabriel Filomena, whose mother walked him to the microphone.
“Please let us have a vert ramp,” he said. “Thanks.”
Councilman Don Frantz said SK8-Cary supporters delivered “one of the most organized, professional budget requests that I’ve ever seen.”
But Frantz declined to speculate on whether the ramp would make it into next year’s budget.
“You never know,” he said. “It could be cool.”
The town collected budget requests from 43 other people by phone, email, and social media. Cary plans to hold more public meetings in May, when staff is expected to draft a budget for the Town Council.