Snow Business Like Snow Business

WAUSAU, Wisc. -- How do you open a brand new, natural snow-tubing hill when your community is suffering from a snow drought? As January came to a close with less than three inches of snow accumulation, the Wausau and Marathon County Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department of Wausau, Wis., was faced with this dilemma.

Usually, we have all the snow we need by this time of the year, but for reasons only known to Mother Nature, it looked like the best new winter fun to come along in a decade was never going to open.

Enter the new owner of our local, commercial ski hill. Charles Skinner and his crew had been making snow at Granite Peak since before Thanksgiving. By January, Granite Peak was up and running on a great base. Skinner offered one of his snow cannons to the parks, recreation and forestry department to use to make snow for the tubing hill.

With no water reservoir on the property, we had to approach the Wausau Water Works and the Wausau School District to get permission to draw off of a hydrant on school property next to Sylvan Hill Park.

To get the water to the tubing hill, 800 feet of hose was generously provided by the Wausau Fire Department. City water needed a boost in PSI to make the snow cannon work, so the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources loaned us two portable pumps.

The park crew had spent all summer and fall building and sculpting the slopes for the new tubing hill, and jumped at the chance to get it running.

Park operations employees worked round the clock for five days to build mounds of snow that were then pushed, prodded, and groomed to cover the three, 20-foot wide runs on the 1,800 foot long hill.

On January 24, the Sylvan Tubing Hill held a Grand Opening with free tubing for the general public. Mother Nature has since cooperated with 14 days of below freezing temperatures and the facility is generating as much revenue in a weekend as the old ski hill did in a month.

All it took was some Good Neighbor caring and sharing to make it happen.

Karyn J. Powers, Recreation Superintendent, Wausau, Wisc.

PlayCore Acquires Park Structures

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. -- PlayCore Inc. has acquired Park Structures, a manufacturer of commercial play structures headquartered in Coral Springs, Fla.

PlayCore will serve as the corporate headquarters for the company, though Park Structures will continue to operate from its facilities in Coral Gales, and be marketed through a nationwide support system of independent sales representatives.

PlayCore's products are marketed under the brands of GameTime, Swing-N-Slide and Heartland. Park Structures has been publicly-owned since 1998 by Koala Corporations. Its product line includes the SuperMax and DuraMax Play Systems.

RampSkin Changes Name

TEMPE, Ariz. -- RampSkin Inc. has changed its name to Surface Industries Inc. Surface Industries will carry the ramp surfacing material Ramp Armor, plus the brands SUB-STR8 Underlayment, Hard-NOX Ramp Panels and Titanic Ramp Tools, which include Titanic Ramp Anchors and the associated drill bits.

Surface Industries' new Web site will also offer ramp surfacing packages to streamline the purchasing process, the company says. The new Web site is located at

Follow Up

To Supervise or Not?

In the March issue of Parks & Rec Business magazine, part three of The Skatepark Decision discussed liability and risk management at skateparks.

An important issue that surfaced was whether or not to supervise the parks. In California, for example, laws concerning "hazardous" sports seem to discourage supervision, as liability and insurance costs increase significantly if a park is supervised.

Inquiries across the country seemed to indicate that most free skateparks are unsupervised. A number of good ideas to help mitigate any concern came out of that discussion -- involving the local police department and working with private organizations to bring their own programming and handle the resulting liability for it being two of those.

Since that article was published we spoke with Chuck Prince, parks and recreation director for Plainfield, Ind., who was featured in the December 2002 issue of Parks & Rec Business.

Prince's philosophy, illustrated by the operation of Plainfield's skatepark, is to treat it like any other facility. Plainfield's park is supervised by "skateguards", who play the same role a lifeguard would at a pool.

While this approach creates more up-front costs in manpower and insurance, Prince is convinced it was the best approach, at least for his community.

Prince says that the short-term costs are offset by the long-term savings on trash and graffiti removal. The skateguards help ensure regular, on-the-spot maintenance and totally discourage the would-be tagger or litterbug simply because someone is there watching them.

Parks & Rec Business would like to hear your thoughts and experiences with skatepark supervision (or non-supervision). Your input will help other parks and recreation professionals as you benefit from their ideas.

Cards & Letters

Send your comments, questions and stories to PO Box 291773, Kerrville, TX 78028, (830) 257-1012, (830) 257-1020 (fax), or go to our Web site at

Deciding about Skateparks

I have read your articles thus far on The Skatepark Decision. The information has been helpful and fascinating.

We have a skatepark here in Jefferson Township, N.J. It is a nice park, built primarily by volunteers and run by our recreation department.

I am a little disappointed in the amount of use that it gets. It may be too difficult for our skaters to get to unless parents drive them because there are no sidewalks and it is just not in a convenient location.

My primary goal will be to run programs at the park and have lessons available. I will also be having a "skate party" where the kids can come and use the park while we have music, refreshments and other entertainment available.

I would love to see an article on what other people do to draw attention to their facilities. In some cases the need may be so great that they do not have to do anything to bring kids in.

Also, there has been mention that kids do not come to our park as often because they have to wear full gear. Other parks do not mandate this. I am sure other parks have the same issue. In our case, the insurance company set the policy, but I agree with their requests. Safety is always first in our department.

Our park is supervised. I would not have it any other way. If it is not supervised, then it is closed.

I look forward to reading the remaining articles on this topic. Thank you for your time.


Grace C. Rhinesmith

Director of Recreation

Jefferson Township, N.J.