LaFollette city leaders have voted to removed a skatepark after business owners' request it be relocated.
(WBIR - LaFollette) Skateboard fans in the small town of LaFollette will soon have to find another place to hang out. That's because the one place in the city for them is being removed.
LaFollette resident Zachary Everett has been skateboarding for nine years and is now a professional skateboarder.
"My home life wasn't the best and skateboarding was an escape for me, just being able to kick, push, and feel the wind," he said.
Everette said he frequently rolls across the ramps located in the back of the East Beech Street parking lot and has seen a change in the number of people using the skatepark.
"For the last couple of days I've come out here there has been nobody out here, but when I've come out here in the past there's been a lot of people out here," said Everett.
In a couple of weeks, no one will be skateboarding at the skatepark. The City of LaFollette voted to get rid of the railings.
LaFollette's Mayor, Mike Stanfield, said the city's merchant association wants the ramps relocated from the parking lot shared by businesses, the police department, and the fire department. Mayor Stanfield says the issue came up as the city council discussed resealing, blacktopping, and re-striping the lot. Majority ruled to remove the skatepark. Mayor Stanfield doesn't agree.
"I was against moving it or tearing it down," said Mayor Stanfield.
The skatepark was built in the early 2000s, and because the equipment is dated Mayor Stanfield fears it won't return if moved, which could cause a problem for the city.
"Once these barricades are removed and the ramps and stuff taken down, you'll see them out on the sidewalk skateboarding on the main street. You see them on the steps, the banks, and the old post office," the mayor said.
A member of the LaFollette Merchant Associate said off-camera, the organization wants the skatepark relocated due to skating accidents and illegal activities they've witnessed. That same member said she would like to see the skatepark put in a better location. Mayor Stanfield said city leaders have discussed possible locations. Again, the mayor is concerned the skatepark will not return because of the age of the ramps and rails. Mayor Stanfield is hoping the city can get a grant to purchase new equipment.