New skate park brings smiles to Apex residents

APEX, N.C. (WTVD) -- The new Rodgers Family Skate Plaza brought smiles to Apex residents during its opening ceremony Saturday. Forty-thousand square feet of skating surface is now embraced by local and regional skateboarders who appreciate a challenging course.

"You got a bowl over there," said skater Alec Critser. "You got rails, you got ledges, you got stairs. There's so much to see. There's a lot to do. There's stuff for every kind of skater."

Apex police captain Jacques Gilbert helped to develop the concept after an encounter with a local skater about three years ago.

"And I told him he couldn't skate in his own driveway. That frustrated me and it frustrated him. He asked me, 'Where am I supposed to skate?' I said I don't know, but you have to figure it out. When I rode away that didn't sit well with me. So I drove back to his house and I told him, we're going to work on this project together," said Gilbert.

John Rodgers, owner of Prime Mortgage Lending, got involved when he was working with the Apex Chamber of Commerce.

"They used to skateboard out there all the time. I thought it would be a great idea to have a place for them," Rodgers said. "Then somebody else put their idea into motion and got this going for the town."

Rodgers donated $100,000 of the nearly million dollars it took to build the plaza.

Safety is paramount at the plaza, according to Apex Town Manager Bruce Radford. "In fact, Wake Med and Wake Med Orthopedics were kind enough to donate 100 helmets and pads for those kids out here who showed up today without them," he said.

Those who skate with no protective gear will be fined $25. There's also an emergency phone there, and the action's monitored by police surveillance camera.

For skaters like Critser, the rules are worth it now that the plaza's open. "You know, this is just down the street from my house," he said. "I can get here without a car if I need to. It's really great."

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