Months after a Folly Beach skate park was closed down, it's unclear whether the town will ever get a replacement.
The previous park at 510 E. Erie St., next to tennis courts and a playground, closed late last year. The metal ramps there, built largely through a volunteer effort, stood up poorly to the constant beating from the skateboards' wheels. They curled inward like a sheet of metal slowly being hammered into a bowl, Mayor Tim Goodwin said.
City Council had been discussing the park's future for a while before it closed, as neighbors complained of excessive noise, vandalism and other misbehavior. At the same time, support from the skating community to replace it has been strong, with 300 people signing a petition for a new park.
“Nobody feels lukewarm about whether or not there should be a skate park," City Administrator Spencer Wetmore said.
An advisory group recently presented three options to the council to consider: replacing the park in the same spot, which would likely spark an outcry from neighbors; moving it to city-owned land on 3rd Street West, which would eat up some public parking and cost the city $19,000 in revenue annually; or not replacing the park at all.
Construction costs would vary based on what materials the city chooses. Concrete would last for decades but cost between $42,000 and $56,000. Skatelite, a composite material designed for skating and BMX bikes would last 20 years and cost between $9,800 and $14,000.
Folly Beach has had a focus on expanding its residential amenities, such as parks, in recent years as more families with young children have moved into the off-beat beach town. The skate park was envisioned as another public space for kids who had grown out of going to the nearby playground.
More families and young professionals are moving into Folly Beach. Are they transforming the funky beach community?
"The original idea for a skate park unfortunately rests in my court," Goodwin said. "It did not turn out like we’d hoped for."
But Brian Eichelman, manager of McKelvin's Surf Shop and a member of the skate park committee, said the park was a nice feature for local kids while it was open.
"I think all recreational activity is important, and we should have fun things for kids to do," he said.
Councilwoman Laurie Hull said she heard from neighbors around the old skate park for years about how disruptive it was. She said the city may have to keep looking for another space, because the city wouldn't want to lose the parking revenue from the suggested spot on 3rd Street West.
"I am in favor of the skate park," she said. "I'm just not in favor of it in the residential area that it was."
But finding available land in Folly Beach that isn't near homes is a challenge on the small, popular island.
In the meantime, area skaters have the option of heading to the $4.8 million skate park that opened in the Neck Area last summer — but they'll have to pay a $3 entrance fee.