HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Calling the ramps in deplorable condition and a safety hazard, Harrison County officials have decided to temporarily close the entire Skate Park Thursday. The move will give them time to assess the damage, start the renovations and a thorough cleaning.
Harrison County Supervisor Connie Rockco said she informed the county administrator about the problems after a walk- through of the property recently. Just look at the wooden ramps and you'll see why Harrison County officials call them a liability. There are buckled plywood, exposed nails, and large holes.
Rockco said the ramps at the Skate Park and Hockey Complex are in "horrible condition." She also pointed out that the air conditioning system needs repairs. And she said the bathrooms, kitchen equipment, and floors need to be cleaned.
"The county is closing the entire park to renovate it and clean it up. We want it to be a happy place for families again," Rockco said.
"It's a shame to see it closed. I don't know what all those kids are going to do," said Melissa Hall, President of the Mississippi Roller Girls.
The move came as a surprise to members of the Mississippi Roller Girls. The team has been practicing and playing at the complex since 2008. Members spent Wednesday removing their furniture, clothing, and equipment from the storage area in one of the buildings.
"Girls were crying. I was a little overwhelmed, not sure what to do, where we're going to go," said Hall. "We come here three times a week. We play all of our games here. We don't know what we're going to do without this place."
Austin Dumas of Biloxi has been skateboarding at the park for the last ten years.
"I've personally put my own money into the park, building ramps and rails," said Dumas. "The park would never have looked the way it was if it had been taken care of properly in the first place."
County Administrator Pam Ulrich said the county is in charge of maintaining the property. However, she said the company that manages the park, CJ and B, has not notified her office about the deteriorating condition.
Once the park closes on Thursday, county crews will assess the extent of the damage and determine how long the repairs will take. Ulrich added that the park has closed several times before for repairs and cleaning.
Ulrich also said CJ and B has not paid the county its share of the park fees collected from members for several months now. And she said the county has not received a monthly schedule of events and tournaments.
WLOX did get a hold of the owner of the company, Chuck Thuss, but he did not want to comment.
In addition to speaking to WLOX News for this story, Connie Rockco also released the following statement concerning the skatepark:
"I am very sorry for the inconvenience. However, due the safety issues, maintenance, and over all cleaning of the park, it will be closed until everything is complete and the park is returned to a clean, wholesome facility for the public. We will try to accomplish this in a timely manor.
We do not know the entire extent of the damages therefore an exact time of reopening is not yet available.
We waited until school started before closing the park in an effort to avoid as little problems as necessary. Again I am concerned about the well being of the public and apologize for your inconvenience."