When crowds gather at the city’s new skatepark – which happens every time the sun is shining – a sea of debris usually follows.
Surrounding the $500,000 skatepark are scores of plastic water bottles, candy wrappers and energy drinks of all sorts. The trash cans are often dumped entirely as skateboarders haul them over to use as obstacles.
Park Director Ed Swicklas said he’s got someone picking up the trash there for as much as three hours a day.
Park officials said if they don’t see things get better in the next couple of months, they’ll consider fencing the skatepark and perhaps even supervising its use.
“We gotta see an improvement,” said Bob Fiorito, a park commissioner.
Park officials said that landscaping efforts in the next few weeks may help and putting in trash receptacles that can’t be hauled out by over-eager skateboarders should at least keep youngsters from overturning barrels.
Shawn Brunoli, a skateboarder, said that because the skatepark is “always packed” with boarders, bikers and friends, the sheer number of people likely contributes to the trash that’s tossed all over.
“We’re struggling with the fact that nobody seems to want to put anything in the trash barrels,” Swicklas said.
He said it angers him to find “seven million energy bottles” strewn around on a Monday morning.
Cindy Donovan, a park commissioner, said that she’s seen the “trash all over” the place at the skatepark day after day. She said it angers her, too, because the users don’t even have to pay to use the new facility.
“Wherever they stand, they just drop what they finish,” Swicklas said, with no concern for the appearance of the place.
Officials admit, though, that because the landscaping isn’t done, the skatepark still has the look of a construction site, which may contribute to the feeling that cleaning up isn’t needed.
Swicklas said that he wishes the skateboarders and bikers who profess to love the new recreational facility, which opened last fall, will “take ownership of it” and take care of it.
He said that users of downtown’s Brackett Park, which got a major facelift a few years ago, have done a good job of policing it. He said the older and more responsible people at Brackett Park make sure others follow their lead in preventing vandalism and keeping things clean.
Swicklas said the skatepark needs to develop the same sort of ethos.
“When they start cleaning up after themselves and others, they stop littering,” Donovan said.
Officials said they’re desperate to find a solution for the skatepark’s care.
“We don’t want it dumpy,” said Tom Ragaini, a park commissioner.
Donovan expressed skepticism that things are going to get better.
She said she’s certain the new landscaping – mostly grass and low-lying shrubs – will get trampled.
“It’s just going to be ruined,” Donovan said.
But Swicklas said he thinks the young people who use the skatepark can learn to take care of it. He said the key is to make them aware of the concerns.
Watch your words, kids
As part of the $7 million renovation of Rockwell Park, officials decided to move the basketball court from its longstanding spot beside Mrs. Rockwell’s Playground to a new one beyond the center field fence at Muzzy Field.
The main reason for the change?
Officials wanted to keep the steady patter of foul language from the basketball players far from the young children next door.
So they put the new 16,000-square-foot skatepark where the basketball used to be.
That may not have been such a great choice.
Cindy Donovan, a park commissioner, said the foul language she hears at the skatepark is offensive and commonplace.
One skateboarder was screaming obscenities the other day, she said.
Donovan said she’s worried the new playground that should open this spring may be tarnished by the language. It could keep families with young children away, she said. – Steve Collins
Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at email@example.com