May 8, 2009

Trash, cursing mar city's skatepark

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


Anonymous said...

Shut it down. Kids don't clean it - close it down!! Simple as that.

Concerned Conservative said...

Told you so.

Anonymous said...

What did you expect when you let a bunch of kids in there with no supervision??? Is anyone really surprised?? The city should fence that thing off and charge a nominal fee for use so that users would have to register with the city. At least that way the city could somewhat offset costs (however minimally) and have some record of people who are using it. Out of towners should pay more. Did you know that kids come from as far as Brookfield to use it??

Anonymous said...

This is sick and sad on all levels. I so dislike that part of town.

Anonymous said...

What is going to be next????? How about a lawsuit from injuries received a the park.....It will happen, mark my words. This place is a lawsuit just waiting to happen.

So You Told said...

@ May 8, 2009 1:15 PM

Keeping with the spirit of the story...

F.U., Cuckoo Conservative!

You _ _ _ HOLE know-it-all!

Anonymous said...

wow?????? just a blog bud !!

Anonymous said...

"This place is a lawsuit just waiting to happen."

I've said this from the beginning. The place is total asphalt and there's no requirement that the kids where protective gear like helmets and pads. Unfortunately, some kid will get hurt badly at some point and guess who will get sued? That's right! The City. One of the things that will be a problem is the lack of adult supervision.

So You Told said...

@ May 8, 2009 3:37 PM

You're right. And the story is about a skatepark.

Any other observations Captain Obvious?

Anonymous said...


Install cameras, then sell footage to national TV

Anonymous said...

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.

This has the makings of an SNL skit: Bristol's finest.... Sorry to be so rude or condesending, but that comment is just absurd.... if we spent 2 million dollars to plant shrubs like we are doing everywhere else in the city, do any of these officials think that would make a kid walk to a trash recepticle and toss his trash?
Spend 2 million more to refill the lagoon, wait till you see the trash that is going to end up in there. Spend 2 million to replant, hand these kids a $500,000 skate park, has any of this money brought 1 dime into the Bristol infastructure? Now we are going to have to have overtime dished out for trash patrol, foul language, grafitti and this made the West End better exactly how?

Anonymous said...

The lang. is more sportsman like on the volleyball and basketball courts .Yea right CC you should be the park director YOU GOT ALL THE ANSWERS.

Anonymous said...

First of all, it's not the kids fault. It is the parents fault for not teaching their kids any manners.
And 3 hours a day picking up trash? Give me a break!! I think they forgot to mention that the 3 hours also includes 2 1/2 hours of breaktime that they take standing around B.S.'in. I seriously doubt the majority of Public Works and/or Parks Dept workers actually work for 3 hours straight without a break! Don't take my word for it...go watch them someday, you'll see for yourself.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately these incidents are not unique to the skate park. There is a lack of pride, community, and ownership among many people including the young and not so young.

AnonymousWestconnStudent said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Name Caller said...

To So You Told: I think it is time to call your doctor and have your meds adjusted.

Anonymous said...

what another huge waste of money from are city council that place is a joke. i would never bring my 6 year old there. page park is better

Concerned Conservative said...


Actually I was against building this skate park for a variety of reasons, and these circumstances just reinforce my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Is Cindy Donovan for real? I mean talk about empty hear syndrome.

Anonymous said...

Lawsuit for the city? Parents are manily at fault for not ensuring their kids are protected with gear. Area is skate at your own risk - city is not liable.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Well i have to say i live right down the street from this really stupid idea of a skate park bulit in the park...yes the kids don't care about throwing garbage on the ground i see it every day...i also see people driving by my house and tossing bottles and trash out there windows? lotta freaking pigs live in bristol that don't care! now let's not forget how many times i was driving and hear comes a skateboarder right of the sidewalk and in front of my car??? i say eat the loss it was a dumb idea and tear that down!! thanks bristol for making the folks on this side of town put up with this....

So You Told said...

@ May 8, 2009 10:07 PM

Time for you to... drop dead!

So You Told said...

@ May 9, 2009 9:44 AM

I'm sure, in your mind, everyone should be wise enough to share your opinions, Cuckoo Conservative.

How did you get this way?

Concerned Conservative said...

The problem I have with this is the liability and the attraction of this facility to people who don't have an investment in it (out of towners).

I don't care much for the activity, although having driven by the place it seems to be attracting a decent crowd of kids.

And with all due respect to the skater-crowd, the rest of Rockwell park is strewn with broken glass, cigarette butts and other disgusting junk. So it's not just the skate park.

Anonymous said...


Flabbergasted Citizen said...

Can anyone say they're surprised..but first think, When was the last time you threw a cigarette butt or a wrapper or fast food bag out of your car window with Junior in the back seat
watching... Kids learn it from somewhere and with the number for "Grownups" throwing crap out of the car window, I'm surprised we can see our feet as we wade threw the crap left by other...
And for May 8, 2009 7:54 PM. thanks for turning this into a swipe at Municipal workers,was to go for pushing your agenda Moron...

Anonymous said...

This is a classic example of the behaviors associated with the collapse of organized sports.
I played baseball and hockey most of my life, I coached little league for 6 years and I have coached hockey for almost 8. My question is what happened to organized sports for the kids in the city of Bristol?
When I coached baseball, (especially at the triple A level, the league was in such disarray, they were begging for kids in order to field 5 teams. Subsequently, I had kids that absolutely belonged on double A but were being moved up to triple A just so they could have 5 teams. I had the privilege of playing for Jim Bates for a couple of years and like him or not, his record can't be argued with. Needless to say, when we played, we cleaned our own fields, raked our own fields and (imagine this) POLICED our own field. Coach Bates would not allow 1 water bottle left in or around the bench.
Over the years as Little League has been scraping for players, the excuse was Lacrosse and soccer were stealing the kids. After 6 years of baseball, my son decided to try Lacrosse since he has played hockey for 6 years. Well. over the course of the winter, the director of the Lacrosse league was begging for kids to play. We barely got enough on Bristol's team to field 15 kids. Our first game against Southington I was amazed because I saw nothing but a sea of blue coming to play us. Southington had 33 players on their team. The same held true for West Hartford. We played them and they had 17, but they also have 4 teams in our division. Bristol has always been known as a sports town, especially baseball. Last year was our chance to go to Williamsport and unfortunately it didn't happen. Now with the way the leagues are scraping for kids, we won't see another state champ in years. We play hockey also. It is expensive, but as a coach, I see it as the last bastion of sportsmanship. In hockey for the most part it's like the old days. When the kids step foot on the ice, what the coaches say goes. They learn teamwork, respect, morals, self discipline and self control. By the way, any of you that want to come up with the argument that hockey is a goon sport figure this. The only other collegiate athletes that have higher average GPA than hockey players are the females. Hockey runs from early September to mid March. Coaches bond with the players and parents, parents bond with other players and parents. 3 nights a week and 1 game Saturday and 1 game Sunday, the kids are actually learning something.
Baseball, for $60 lasts fort what? 8 weeks in this town and basically turns into a babysitting service for the coaches so the kids that want to play get sidetracked by those that we have to babysit. Individual sports DO NOT teach respect, team work, or common courtesy. That is what you have with the skate park. It’s great to see people coming from all over to use it, but regardless of who’s fault it is for not teaching a kid to throw away a container into a trash bin, it is going to cost us more money in the long run. Another example of Bristol spending money to loose money. I know darn well if a kid was on my team and let some language fly, he would be doing push up till his arms fell off and that would be the last time he said it. Wouldn't you think that after all the complaining of kids having nothing to do and handing them a $500,000 skate park, they could pick up after themselves? Really, it's not that hard. And by the way coach or not, I know not everyone is cut out for team sports, but I would rather have my kid on a team than skating in a cement jungle. Statistics show even with an "adequate" coach they will learn a lot more. 60,000 people in this town and the organized sports organizations are seriously hurting for kids that is really a shame.

Anonymous said...

charge the kids a fee to use the skatepark.

Anonymous said...

Hey don't forget about the dog park the Park Dept is going to build - give us a break already.

Anonymous said...

i think that these kids have the ability to self-police. they just need the motive: if it was clear that the penalty for trashing the skatepark is that it is closed to all (not just the offenders), you bet they'd self-police. if the skatepark is that popular, then kids have the incentive to do what is necessary to keep it open.

my suggestion, the city should make its point by sending ed swicklas and a police officer or two down there at 12 on a Saturday, and if there's a lot of litter on the ground, make the kids leave and lock the place up. tell them its because of their poor housekeeping and if they want to come back next saturday, they had better cut it out. follow through. this is parenting psych 101. its works with my two year old, and it should work with these kids.

oh, and i would make sure that a notice of this new policy was given to kids and parents through some sort of handout at school.

and if it doesn't work...then i'm sure that the skatepark can be put to another use.

AnonymousWestconnStudent said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

At the core of EVERY sport is competition.

This world needs a whole lot LESS COMPETITION and a whole lot MORE COOPERATION.

Competition is bad!

Cooperation is sublime!

This world needs a complete shift away from competition in favor of more cooperation.


Anonymous said...

If it is trashed, close it down for a day, then 2, then 3.

Maybe they will get the message.

Just Venting said...

I have been to the park several times with my own children and I am shocked not by the language that is being said, but by the parents that are there letting it happen. How hard is it to say "can you please watch your language". Yes, you will get that dirty look that you are not my mother, but most of the kids will respect the fact that they were wrong and at least not be as loud.

Farmington has a skate park, a lot smaller, they require helmets and people in the area report problems to the police who come and check the area. A friend of mine was there this weekend and the officer kicked everyone out that did not have a helmet and he stayed there to make sure no one came back. I know a novel concept that the police enforce something minor.

pauly d said...

ok all of you people just pointing the blame saying you knew it all along. grow up please. me and my friends are down there everyday. we pick up our stuff. and the stuff we dont throw in the garbage can we through in the bed of my pickup truck. today we even got into a fight with some girl who kicked over a barrel on top of the pool telling her to pick up all that s***. its ridiculous. its not everyone too. and not in everyone elses defense or anything. but there is only like 5 barrels scarcely scattered all over the park. there needs to be more. everyone ive ever seen throws it at the barrel cause they are too damn lazy to walk over its ridiculous. what i cant stand is the fact that we fought so long to get this and now everyone just treats it the way they do. its total bs. then they all complain when rules are enforced and they wonder why. an to the ones who say i was a waste of money go screw yourselves. these kids were getting in trouble and ALL OF YOU were complaining about kids skating on public properties. so now they are off your properties so shut up. theyre not bothering you. and if you guys really cared about the cleanliness of this park. why dont you come down and help me and my friends clean up as we skate around? i dont see you people who care so much about how clean it is come down and clean up. yeah be a little kid and say "oh its not my mess" then stop complaining. its ridiculous. im not saying your wrong or everyone at the park is wrong. its just ridiculous that its coming to this. you put a bunch of teenagers in a small area what do you expect. granted im 19 but all these people driving in an out of the park at high speeds. yes im an ass. but thats complete BS that you guys are more concerned with the cleanliness rather than little kids being hit by these idiots that drive in and out going so fast. i dont even know what to say anymore im drifting away. its just complete bs.

Bristol Sucks! said...

This Pauly d is an example of what Bristol schools are producing.

Let's face it boys and girls, residents of Bristol have bigger problems than trash in the skateboard park or foul language from city youth.

Here's an example of a Nineteen year old who clearly cannot express himself.

I'm sooooo excieted. I can't wait to pay my city taxes. It's such a great investment!

"its just complete bs"

AnonymousWestconnStudent said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
WestConn Sucks! said...

Here's an idea!

Pay my Bristol taxes and I'll shut up.

That's roughly $15,000 annually. Do you even make that much in a year?

FYI, collecting unemployment or student financial aid doesn't technically count as income.

AnonymousWestconnStudent said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
WestConn Sucks! said...

Ouch! Must have hit one of your impecunious nerves.

Sorry about that Nusquam Sententia!

mom of skaters and bikers said...

I am a mother of two children that regularly use the skate park and would like to add to this conversation.

We fought to have this skate park built for 6 years for our kids to use. We did not have it built for these hoodlums to trash. I am so disappointed in the parents of Bristol. You would think that you would monitor your children, not dump them off to sit there for the day with no supervision. You would think you would teach them to be respectful to the elders that ask them to pick up their trash and not swear. You would think you would make them wear safety gear, at least a helmet. You would think you would teach them not to bully younger children. You would think you would teach your children to take care of a place that your tax dollars paid for. Shame on you.

My children will never be dumped off there, they will never litter and they will always wear helmets. They should be able to enjoy the skate park that we worked so hard to get built.

Monitor the skate park, weed out the trash that goes there and insist that there is available trash cans for garbage. If the garbage cans are overflowing and there is trash everywhere, put in more trash cans. By the way, it only takes 1/2 hour to pick up all the trash surrounding the park. I've done it serveral times myself.

Anonymous said...

Just think if they did that on the Boulevard!

Gamache and Nelligan would have a fit!

Anonymous said...

Keep in mind that these same people do not behave much different in the classroom.

Wanna be a teacher?

Anonymous said...

That is true, students treat their schools and classrooms the same way. As an adult working in a school, it's disappointing to see kids take what they have for granted. I deal with this all the time. Students don't clean up after themselves, sometimes leaving all their food trays on their table after they have finished lunch. But, this, I believe is the product of kids being babied to the point that they can not do ANYTHING for themselves. When we have had to contact parents about these issues most often you hear the reasons why it is okay for their kids not to be responsible for their's usually someone else's fault and problem according to the parent. Or the parent is oblivious to why it is important for us to work together to help their child understand the importance of appropriate behavior. That is, when you can get ahold of them, because they don't have the most recent phone number on the contact list.

They are teenagers, and with this comes a certain amount of lack of understanding about their influence on the world and the responsibility they have to make the world a better place. Parents often say NO WAY-not my kid-my child would NEVER do that. But unlike the Mom that wrote earlier, they aren't there to really see what their kids are doing. I often wonder if these parents remember being kids themselves. To just assume that kids naturally do the right thing is nieve. This skate park was given to these kids and many do not take ownership of it and take it for granted like everything else...but you can not generalize and say this of ALL kids. There are many good kids at that park on a daily basis-I know them personally. AND, for the record, this is an overall problem in society. I see adults throwing garbage out of their windows all the time and having no consideration for anyone but themselves.

We need to be realistic and not just look for another sounding board to generalize about kids. Instead we should teach them to do the right thing and to see why that is important. I know for a fact that there are kids at that park who are recognizing the problem and doing something proactive about it, instead of just complaining. I am very proud of them because they are doing the right thing and trying to resolve the problem by cleaning up the trash, despite it being someone else's mess. Keep it up JT!!!

AND to the guy who can not let others express themselves in their own the kid who blogged on here...why don't you just converse with yourself all day because clearly no one is at your intellectual level-what a shame!