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Amenia board discusses insurance concerns for proposed skatepark

AMENIA — With guidance from Attorney to the Town Ian Lindars, the Amenia Town Board engaged in an in-depth discussion about the Wassaic skatepark proposal at its meeting on Thursday, April 15, during which time board members considered insurance and liability concerns.

This past December, the Town Board listened to a proposal from Amenia resident Christopher May for installing a skatepark in the hamlet of Wassaic.

Beginning at 7 p.m., the recent meeting was held via Zoom and live streamed to the “AmeniaTV” YouTube channel due to the COVID-19 health crisis.

On top of the materials provided by Lindars, Councilman James Morris said he did some independent research and believed Lindars is correct in saying the board needs to have a revocable license agreement in order to protect the town.

“Skateboarding is not as dangerous as football or basketball, but it’s still a dangerous sport and it wouldn’t be prudent if we had nothing in writing to show what the rights and obligations of each of the parties is,” Morris said, “so it should be spelled out in a document.”

The town received a $2,500 grant that will go to May to work on the project, so Morris said things have to be spelled out precisely. In addition to having signage, he said the town should have a waiver of liability and parents should sign something to give their children permission to skateboard at the park. Perotti said she already sent the information to May about what the town’s insurance company requires from him.

Agreeing with Morris on the insurance aspect, Lindars said he believes May and his organization should be insured and that Amenia should be named as an additional insured party on May’s policy.

Councilman Damian Gutierrez shared that when Amenia had a dance instructor teach in the past, the town used grant money to pay the instructor.

“I don’t recall ever having an insurance requirement of that person to provide their own private insurance,” he said.

Councilwoman Vicki Doyle said a dance instructor probably doesn’t have the same kind of liability concerns that a skateboard park would have. However, she said dance was still a town activity and Amenia carries $54,000 worth of insurance to insure the town so it can offer municipal rec programs such as soccer, baseball, karate and cheerleading.

“This skateboard may rise to a higher level of what’s considered dangerous,” Doyle said. “Now one thing I will say is that being a Greenway Community does provide additional insurance, perhaps to parks, for this kind of thing, and it is possible to contact the Greenway Community and see if a skateboarding program would add insurance liability indemnifying the town as the primary.”

Doyle said this was an option rather than having May try and purchase insurance, “which would certainly take more money than what he’s probably getting for teaching lessons for free to our town residents.”

Gutierrez commented that the insurance aspect is “a real blow” to the town’s ability to hire people or allow someone to volunteer to do these kinds of programs.

Perotti asked what the town must put in place in order to offer skateboarding. Lindars said he believes it should have some type of service agreement indicating what each party is providing and what is being exchanged for May to have the right to use town property to run a skateboarding program.

Lindars asked if the town currently uses waivers through its Recreation Department, to which Town Clerk Dawn Marie Klingner said yes, adding every participant who plays baseball needs to fill out a form. Gutierrez noted Amenia doesn’t have a general recreation waiver, though Klingner said that when the town had a cheerleading program, participants had to sign a form similar to the baseball waiver.

Gutierrez pointed out for town recreation programs, Amenia carries insurance to cover the programs offered by its recreation commission. He later remarked the town could have a general license agreement that’s applicable to other recreation programs. Toward the end of the board’s discussion, Lindars said he will look into the activities to see if there are forms, exceptions or ways of keeping the recreation programs running while protecting the town.

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