OC Skate Park’s Usage Data Impresses Officials

OCEAN CITY – A recent review of usage figures for the Ocean Bowl Skate Park shows significant demand among the year-round community as well as summer visitors.

Last month the Skate Park Committee convened to review usage data of Ocean Bowl Skate Park collected throughout 2013 in advance of this spring’s budget discussions.

During a budget wrap-up session in April last year, the Mayor and City Council voted to have Ocean Bowl Skate Park operate through the summer during its normal hours, which is open seven days a week during daylight. The changes proposed were to begin the Tuesday after Labor Day weekend when it would continue to be open on weekends, holidays and all Worcester County school days off only, but shut down during the months of January and February during the week. The reduction in hours would have saved the town approximately $21,000.

Due to public backlash, the council reconsidered the decision and voted to appropriate $21,000 in the new budget to have the Ocean Bowl operate its normal hours during the off-season and continue with the formation of a skate park committee to conduct a study.

In a report to the Recreation Commission this week, Recreation and Parks Assistant Director Susan Petito presented the Ocean Bowl Skate Park was open a total of 323 days during 2013.

According to the report, there were 10,329 visits to the Ocean Bowl in 2013, showing daily attendance averaging nearly 31 skaters per day.

The skate operation brought in a total of $55,194 in revenue made up from pass visits, pad rentals, product sales and numerous camps and programs.  Additionally, the park received a donation of $1,000 from the Elks Lodge to help show support for its continued operation.

Total staff hours equaled 5,361 for a wage expense of $64,576.

The report furthered, per Councilman Dennis Dare’s request, the staff members at the Ocean Bowl have begun to track the departure time of each participating skater so that an estimate of skater hours spent in the park may be determined on a daily basis.

From Thursday, Jan. 16, through Sunday, Feb. 9, the park has been open 17 days, 16 of which skater time in the park was collected.  During those 16 days, 227 skaters were in the park for a total of 639.5 hours, showing that skaters stay in the park a little over two and half hours per day on average during the cold months.

In 2012, the Ocean Bowl cost $95,000 while in 2013 it cost $75,000 to operate.

Ocean Bowl Manager Dave Messick said the park has saved about $20,000 by tightening expenses.

Other data presented included, in January of this year, Ocean Bowl was open 18 days with an attendance of 282, totaling time spent in the park close to 300 hours. There were close to 344 employee hours spent totaling about $4,283 in payroll expenses. There was $4,560 made in revenue.

In February, Ocean Bowl was open 20 days with an attendance of 399, totaling 1,180 hours spent in the park. There were about 276 employee hours spent totaling close to $3,463 in payroll expenses. There were 13 daily passes and 22 annual passes sold. There was $1,679 made in revenue.

“I think the numbers show that people are using it, and that is what I wanted to find out,” Dare said. “Hopefully we can get some support from Worcester County that allows us to move forward with the expansion of the park.”

Commission Chair Councilman Joe Mitrecic was impressed to see the average individual hours spent in the park came close to three hours during the winter months.

The Skate Park Committee will reconvene next month to review most recent data before a summary is forwarded to the full Mayor and City Council for budget discussions.