Wheels stop rolling at Sk8 Charleston park over wristband issue
Two legs on four wheels is where you’ll usually find Ryan Cockrell.
“I got started skateboarding in my driveway when I was a kid,” he said.
Now he’s graduated from driveways to Charleston County’s newest park and says he worked 10 years to have it built. As expected, he loves everything about it -- except some of the rules.
“The design the build, it’s beautiful,” he said.
What he doesn't love is the wristbands all visitors must wear, which he refuses, because they’re made partly of plastic.
“I skateboard about three times a week on average. For me, that would add up to 150 wristbands a year,” he said.
He’s started a petition asking Sk8 Charleston to use a biodegradable material for their wristbands. He said he's also respectfully declined to wear the wristband and has had the police called on him for his difference in opinion.
"They called the police to have me removed from the skate park," he said.
Connor Lock also won’t wear the wristbands.
“I showed him my card too and he’s like ‘if you don’t wear the wrist band, I’m kicking you out’ and I shook his hand and I’m like see you later dude,” Lock said.
Skating is just half their passion, the other lies among Charleston’s waterways.
“In the last year, we picked up more than 7,000 pieces of plastic pieces,” said Kate Dittloff of The Surfrider Foundation.
She shares that passion and says even though the wrist bands can be recycled, many may not end up that way.
“Not everybody follows the rules. A lot of that trash ends up in the marsh. They did a drive by the marsh, and there was a lot of trash there,” she said.
For now, Ryan still finds himself weaving through the makeshift skate park on Huger Street.
“I now take a second to think, do I want to deal with the hassle to go to Sk8 Charleston.”
He's hopeful park officials agree to change, because he won't give in.
“There is no end for me personally until they do the right thing, I’m going to keep going. That’s what this is about. it’s about doing the right thing,” he said.
The county park did send a written statement, which is below in its entirety.
“The use of wristbands at the SK8 Charleston is an important means to identify and distinguish from a distance the different types of patrons at the park. It prevents transferability, ensures safety, discourages trespassing, and allows for the patron to return to the park the same day without paying an additional entrance fee. The Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission (CCPRC) understands concerns with using wristbands made of Tyvek since that can have impacts on the environment if not properly disposed of and recycled. CCPRC provides bins at the park exit, where patrons are encouraged to recycle their bands. From here, the material is collected for shredding and recycling with other similar materials. Skate park patrons have been very supportive of efforts to recycle the wristbands, and the skate park staff routinely monitor and resolve any improper disposal.
CCPRC continually researches and implements best practices in eco-friendly solutions, including ongoing composting and recycling efforts at the park system’s facilities and events.
CCPRC will continue to consider alternative solutions, but for the time being will use the current wristbands. We will continue to actively communicate with patrons the importance of recycling the wristbands at the park as part of our overall agency-wide stewardship efforts.”