Skate park damage worries advocates

After more than a year of work by volunteers, members of the town and village Recreation Commission

After more than a year of work by volunteers, members of the town and village Recreation Commission are worried that vandalism and misuse at the village skateboarding playground could force them to remove equipment.

“There has definitely been damage to the equipment,” noted Robert Strother, one of an informal group of advocates and volunteers who have built most of the plywood ramps for skateboarders.

While Strother and Recreation Commission member Mike Gates say most of the damage has been relatively minor, Strother said Tuesday, “a big part of the problem is the location.”

Tucked away along a stream in the wooded 10-acre Margaret G. Golding Community Park, it can’t be seen from the street, he said.

The site is a few hundred feet behind the popular recreation center and activities building known by several generations of youngsters as Teen Town.

Recreation Commission Chairwoman Linda Holmes last week presented the Village Board with a list of seven concerns or recommendations from the commission.

“There is undue damage being created by dragging equipment from the skateboard pad to the basketball area,” the commission letter noted.

“This damage is not just destroying ramps, steps, rails … it is also damaging the basketball court surface and exterior fencing.”

The skateboard facilities, including about a dozen homemade wooden ramps, jumps and obstacles, are in the open, while the basketball court is under a covered pavilion.

Some skateboarders have apparently been dragging skate equipment under the shelter to avoid rain, Holmes said.

“The Recreation Commission has invested more than $3,000 to purchase materials, Holmes’ letter stated. “It is disheartening to see efforts created by community volunteers to be disrespected and/or destroyed.”

If recommendations aren’t followed and damage and safety become an issue, all equipment should be removed until these concerns can be resolved, the letter said.

Besides better signs prohibiting vehicles and noting the park is open only from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., the commission asked village police to step up patrols in the park to at least once per hour.

“We’ll certainly be more involved in patrolling the area,” village Police Chief Mike O’Brien said Tuesday. He said police have already responded to the commission’s requests.

“It’s a youth park that the cops can’t see from the street … so it’s going to be a problem,” noted Gates.

Most of the damage has not been significant, he said. “ Mostly it’s things being moved around.”

Mayor Mike Sellers and village trustees agreed last week to pursue the recommendations to better monitor the park.

Many of the volunteers who worked on the skate park are members of the Schoharie County Skateboard Association. The group has sought over the past few years to ease restrictions on where skateboarders could ride along streets, as well as develop the park facilities. That resulted in a modified skateboarding law last year that allows some use of most non-primary streets.

Skateboard advocates have long pushed for a more visible and easily monitored permanent skating facility to be built in Iorio Park, near the village swimming pool.

The Village Board is “on record in favor of that,” Sellers said last week. Cost and available land have been cited as the major stumbling blocks.

Categories: Schenectady County

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