CLIFTON PARK -- The Clifton Park town skateboard park was closed indefinitely on Monday after unknown persons vandalized the facility, dumping what appeared to be construction materials and spray-painting graffitti that included a noose.
The skate park, which is located next to a parking lot for the Clifton Park Center mall, "will not be reopening until repairs have been made and the park is safe once again for skaters and spectators alike," town officials said on the town website.
"This is rare for the skate park," Town Supervisor Phil Barrett said. "It could be there's more visitors to the skate park lately. But there was some extensive damage to the property."
The damage, which was discovered Monday morning, including damage to a shed, the placement of lumber to possibly "enhance" some jumps, and the graffitti. Barrett said police were notified, but he wouldn't say whether there were surveillance cameras at the park.
ERICA MILLER/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
The Town of Clifton Park buildings and parks have shut down the Skate Park due to over-use and damage including graffiti, shown on Tuesday, July 7, 2020.
"Hopefully be able to catch whoever did this," he said.
The Saratoga County Sheriff's Department has a substation in the nearby mall, but generally deputies are only there during shift changes.
Barrett called the incident the worst vandalism the town has had at the skate park, which opened in 2005 to give teenagers a safe place to skateboard. The park is fenced in, but at this time is not staffed.
While there was other graffitti spray-painted on the skate park's walls, one image was unmistakably that of a hangman's noose, an image with a long racist history tied to the lynching of Blacks in the South during the post-Civil War era and into the 20th century. That image is on a wall at the back of the park, not generally visible to the public, Barrett said.
With the Black Lives Matter movement of recent years -- which has been reinvigorated with protests and demonstrations across the county since the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis -- the noose image has also gained more attention. NASCAR drivers rallied around Bubba Wallace -- the sport's most prominent Black driver -- after a noose was found tied in Wallace's garage in the last week of June, ahead of a race at Talledaga Superspeedway in Alabama.
The FBI investigated and determined there was no "hate crime" because the noose has been in place as part of a garage door pull for months
Barrett condemned the image. "It's absolutely unnecessary, and it's a horrible image," Barrett said.
Barrett also expressed anger, generally, that anyone would vandalize the skate park, which the town has opened this year even though many municipal recreation facilities have been kept closed this summer because of COVID-19 concerns.
"It's a shame. Once again it's the actions of a few, and it will block many people from using the park for a period of time," Barrett said. "We understand that it's important for people of all ages to have recreational opportunities available to them.
"If there are any further detrimental actions at the park, it will be closed again," Barrett said.