Skate park remains open

ALABASTER – Despite swirling rumors, the skate park at Veterans Park will not be closing, according to Mayor David Frings.

When the city refused to grant park operator Brian Kelly’s request for more money, he decided to close his on-site skateboarding shop and posted an article on his Web site that said the park would close Sept. 30.

Not true, said Mayor Frings.

“He wanted more money, and I wasn’t going to pay him more money,” said Frings. “The park is not closing, unlike what the previous operator posted on his Web site.”

The city contracted out management of the park to Kelly and his company, Ride Skateboards, when the park opened in April 2006.

However, City Attorney Greg Morris said Kelly demanded $58,000 more this year to continue operating at the Alabama 119 site.

In a press release, Kelly said he told the city for months about his financial concerns and how he would leave if an agreement wasn’t reached.

“I came to Alabama with a plan to create opportunities for skateboarding and to bring proper skate facilities to the state,” Kelly wrote. “It’s with deep regret that I’m unable to continue my involvement with Veterans Skate Park. My departure is based entirely on financial losses involved with park operations.”

Frings thought Kelly should have been able to work within the contract both parties agreed to last year.

“The operator, who we had a contract with, made a financial decision that he could no longer manage the park,” said Frings.

For now, Veterans Skate Park is under the direction of Alabaster Parks and Recreation. Frings said the park’s operating hours would stay the same.

At the city council meeting Monday, two employees of Ride Skateboards asked leaders to reconsider their decision.

Tyler Hammon and Keaton Ernst said the park would lose several contests and competitions without Kelly’s leadership.

“Without him [Kelly], the coverage of this town would likely stop,” said Ernst. “It’s a world-class park we have out there, and we would like it to continue to grow.”

The skate park is open Tuesday through Friday from 3-9 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. and Sunday from 1-8 p.m.

Admission is $3 per weekday and $5 for the weekend. All riders must wear a helmet and have a waiver on file to skate. Parents must sign waivers for children under the age of 19.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly reported the amount of money requested by former skate park operator Brian Kelly