After two years of lobbying, Sk8-Cary supporters finally heard the words they wanted to hear. They will get a 13-foot vert ramp at the town’s skate park – some day.
At the Cary Town Council meeting May 21, council members voted 5-1 for a master plan for Sk8-Cary, the town-run skate park on northwest Maynard Road. The plan, which Jack Smith voted against, includes a vert ramp and could cost more than $3.25 million.
The council’s approval of the plan doesn’t include funding nor a timeline for installing the ramp. But the action to include the ramp was seen as an endorsement of a long-term plan that could be accelerated with help from the private sector.
Supporters said they are thrilled and surprised to hear that Cary leaders are willing to work with them, even though town staff advised council members against pursuing the ramp.
“I’m going to start making phone calls and sending emails tomorrow,” said Danny Guenthner, a Cary resident and skater.
A vert ramp is a type of half-pipe with a flat floor and two vertical walls. The ramps are appealing to skateboarders, rollerbladers and bike riders because users can gain speed by dropping off the top of the wall and do tricks in the air after allowing their momentum to carry them up the other wall. There are only a handful of large vert ramps in North Carolina.
Guenthner is part of a group of parents and youth who have asked the town for a vert ramp the past two years as the Town Council assembled its annual budget. Nearly a dozen of them visited Cary Town Hall to plead their case again.
“The vert ramp is really the only thing on the master plan that would differentiate Sk8-Cary from any other park in the area,” Bobby Flake told the council.
Sk8-Cary offers a number of rails, ledges and ramps at its 12,000-square-foot facility. But some supporters say the park is in danger of losing a core group of customers because its tallest ramp, which is 9 feet tall, isn’t challenging enough for advanced skaters.
After supporters pleaded for a vert ramp for more than a year, the town hired a consultant in October to study the feasibility of putting a vert ramp at Sk8-Cary. The consultant helped develop three potential options for the park, ranging from minor maintenance work to major renovations.
At the May 21 meeting, Cary’s staff recommended a plan to upgrade the park that didn’t include a vert ramp because they said it would be too expensive. The staff-recommended plan would cost between $1.8 million and $2.7 million, while the plan that includes a vert ramp would cost between $2.2 million and $3.25 million.
But most council members said they saw no reason not to install a vert ramp as long as the private sector can bear some of the cost.
“Not as many kids participate in some of these nontraditional sports,” Councilman Don Frantz said. “But there’s definitely a need. We just need to figure out how to fund it.”
The plan that includes a vert ramp also calls for the town to some day build a roof over the park to protect and help extend the life of the wooden ramps.
“I think it’s critical that we at some point get a roof over the park,” Councilwoman Jennifer Robinson said, noting that day-long skate camps are often delayed by weather.
“I would love to see our staff go out and proactively seek a sponsor,” she said.
Councilman Smith said he voted against it because the town would be spending too much to accommodate a niche group.
“We can’t be all things to all people,” Smith said.
But Sk8-Cary fans said the ramp would make the park a destination for skaters across the southeastern United States. Flake and others like Kim Womack said they’re eager to help because they want to attract major skating events to Cary and build upon the facility that’s helped their kids grow as skaters and people.
Womack regularly drives her son to Sk8-Cary from their home in Sanford because he has a close relationship with instructors and other skaters.
“It’s a huge family,” she said.
The Cary Town Council on May 21 also voted to:
▪ Allow the police department to use $587,000 in federal funds on new equipment. More than $345,000 will go toward police cars, and more than $70,000 will go toward equipment for the emergency response team.
▪ Spend $141,700 to update 189 traffic signals throughout town. The funding come from a bond sale that voters approved in a 2012 referendum.
▪ Instruct town staff to increase its efforts to promote activities and resources for seniors throughout town. A group of Cary officials and residents appointed by the town, known as the Aging Issues Task Force, recommended such action after a five-month-long study into how well Cary serves residents who are 65 and older.