Since park commissioners warned that the skatepark had to be kept clean or else, the hordes of young people who use it have responded to the challenge.
Josh Therriault, a 20-year-old college student, said he and about 20 other older users have taken the lead in making sure the $500,000 skatepark at Rockwell Park doesn’t become a trash heap.
He said they formed a committee that includes a “solid seven” who regularly police the skatepark and encourage younger skateboarders and bikers to pick up after themselves.
Park Director Ed Swicklas said they’re making a difference.
“It’s been a great help,” Swicklas said.
With as many as 500 people using the skatepark each day -- at least when the weather is nice -- there’s a significant amount of garbage that piles up there, including plastic water bottles and energy drink containers.
Park officials complained this month that too much of the debris was flung on the ground rather than placed in one of the trash cans on the site.
They warned that if things didn’t improve, they would have to take steps to force better behavior, perhaps by fencing the skatepark and charging a fee for its use.
That caught the attention of many skateboarders and parents who saw the story in The Bristol Press.
Therriault said he wanted to make sure the skatepark would be cleaned up so that alternatives wouldn’t need to be considered.
He said it is “an honor to have something like” the new skatepark in Bristol, which has won rave reviews from skateboarders throughout the region.
“It’s been so long” in the works, he said, that he’s determined to make sure it remains.
Lori DeFillippi, a park commissioner, said that users need to know “it’s a privilege that can be taken away” if the skatepark is abused.
“Don’t blow it,” warned Pat Nelligan, another commissioner.
But Susan Everett, a park panelist, told colleagues they were “dumping on” on Therriault with their warnings when he is leading the effort to do what they want.
Shawn Brunoli, a skateboarder, said he’s seen a big improvement.
One nice thing, he said, is that people who come to the park to walk are offering to help pick up, too, because they can see how much the younger crowd loves the skatepark.
Swicklas said the city has started putting in some landscaping around the skatepark that might help control the littering.
New trash cans that can’t be removed and used as obstacles by skateboarders are also helping, officials said.
Jason Krueger, the assistant park director, said the situation is getting better.
He said that the garbage now is mostly in or around the barrels, which sometimes overflow.
Swicklas said that more barrels will be added to ensure there are enough to handle the volume of trash at the skatepark.
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