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Al Zaldo, the safety director at Naval Support Activity Naples, talks to about 30 teens and children Wednesday about safety regulations regarding the much-anticipated opening of the skate park built at the support site. The park is slated to open March 4.
Al Zaldo, the safety director at Naval Support Activity Naples, talks to about 30 teens and children Wednesday about safety regulations regarding the much-anticipated opening of the skate park built at the support site. The park is slated to open March 4. (Sandra Jontz / S&S)

NAPLES, Italy — Kids soon will be busting huge airs, maybe doing some fakies, and even trying a few 180 frontside ollies ... if they’re good enough.

The much-anticipated, but yet to be named, skate park at Naval Support Activity Naples is slated to open March 4. And the kids are excited.

“We’ve been waiting forever for this. I can’t wait,” said 16-year-old Will Carrico, whose “forever” is 11 years.

Last week, about 30 teens and children gathered at the base teen center to go over safety, a must-do for adults, but talks that elicited grumblings from the youth.

Discussions morphed into a good-natured rivalry, in which teens jockeyed for relaxed guidelines on protective gear while adults stressed the five-letter word teens found a bit repugnant: rules.

“Some of the things we’re talking about sound a lot like rules, and well, yeah, they are,” said base executive officer Cmdr. Jeff Jackson. “But they’re necessary.”

When the teens balked at the required use of wrist guards, and elbow and knee pads, saying the gear stymies movement to perform certain tricks, base safety director Al Zaldo balked right back.

Zaldo’s nephew is famed skater Christian Hosoi, so he intimately knows the world of skating, and the pros and cons of not being adequately protected. And he said he knows what moves can and can’t be done while clad in certain gear.

Safety first, Zaldo said. Case closed.

The teens did win a little latitude, and the mandate for wrist guards applies only to skaters 10 years and younger, and the age requiring a parent be present was lowered from 12 years to 10 years.

The Navy Exchange has ordered additional supplies of the required safety equipment in anticipation of the park’s opening.

The negotiations set the tone not just for Wednesday’s meeting, but for the future of the park: Parents and adults are banking on the young skaters taking ownership of the park.

The young participants agreed.

“A lot of people have given skaters a bad name, but we’re not like that,” said 18-year-old John Flores, a high school junior. “Here, we keep things mellow, keep ‘em friendly. We’re going to do everything we can to keep the park. We’ve been waiting a long time for it, and to have it stripped out from us would suck really bad.”

Skaters take care of themselves and each other, said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Greg Wosciechowski, dad of two skater sons, ages 10 and 13.

“Putting responsibility with the kids is a great thing,” he said. “Most skaters look out for each other.”

The park, which cost more than $100,000 to build, will boast six obstacles, including ramps and rails for skaters to perform their tricks. It will be open to those on skateboards, inline skates and roller skates. No bikes allowed. Hours of operation will be from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., and open to all ages, including adults.

Before busting huge airs, however, skaters first must register with MWR to get an identification card and sign a liability form.

And while the park is not among the world’s top best, on a scale of one to 10 from a beginner- or the occasional-skater’s point of view, it rates about a 6 or 7, said Will, lauded as Naples’ best skateboarder.

“Just having [the park] is awesome. We’ve wanted it for a long time,” he said.

Making rules so bones are not broken

The skate park is intended for recreation and safety is very important. With the potential of injuries, it is a place that requires adult supervision. Children under the age of 10 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian 18 years or older.

1. All skaters must execute a liability waiver agreement, and possess a valid skate park pass. Waivers and passes are available at the support site fitness center.

2. Only skateboards, inline skates/roller skates are allowed. No bicycles, foot scooters, or motorized vehicles of any kind are allowed.

3. All skaters MUST wear: helmet, knee pads, elbow pads, closed toe, slip resistant shoes. Wrist guards required for ages younger than 10 — highly recommended for ages 10 and older.

4. Only one person skating on each obstacle at a time. Nonskaters should stay clear of obstacles and pads.

5. Guests must be accompanied by their sponsor at all times and sign a liability waiver agreement.

6. Food and drinks are prohibited on obstacles or pads.

7. No pets are allowed in the skate park.

8. Foul language will not be tolerated.

9. Courtesy should be shown to all skaters at all times.

10. Smoking and the use of other tobacco is prohibited in and around the skate park area.

11. The consumption of alcohol or possession of glass bottles are prohibited in and around the skate park area.

12. NSA Naples security or designated representatives have authority to remove anyone for inappropriate behavior.

In case of a medical emergency call 081-811-6150 or DSN 629-6150.

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