Janesville38.9°

Edgerton council closes skatepark

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NEIL W. JOHNSON
May 20, 2010
— The weather might be heating up, but city officials are packing away Edgerton's skatepark for the rest of the year.

Following reports this spring of vandalism, disorderly activity and excessive noise by youths at the skatepark, the city council decided this week to remove all three of the park's metal ramps.


The skatepark, located in a former parking lot on the southeast end of Central Park, will be closed until next spring, said Brent Harry, parks and recreation committee chairman. Officials plan to reinstall the ramps on a trial basis, Harry said.


The city's list of reported offenses at the skatepark reads like scenes from a bad after- school special:


-- Graffiti spray-painted onto the concrete slab at the skatepark.


-- Extensive vandalism to adjacent restrooms at the public swimming pool in Central Park.


-- Refuse strewn from garbage cans skateboarders dumped over to use as "ramps."


-- Youths driving vehicles through Central Park and using vulgar language.


-- Damage to signs posting skatepark rules.


"It's too bad. It might just be a few kids causing problems, but unfortunately, the damage that's being done by the few is ruining this park for the many," Harry said.


Harry said he's unaware if anyone has been charged in the vandalisms. Reports on the damages weren't available.


The skatepark, which is on an 80-foot-by-40-foot slab, is not enclosed by a fence. Harry said the city plans to discuss whether the Edgerton Police Department should add patrols near the park.


Harry argues parents could offer more supervision at the skatepark.


"The police can't be out there 100 percent of the time," he said. "The community has some responsibility for self-management."


The park has been in place since summer 2009, after the city and Edgerton Skatepark Committee, a volunteer community group, raised $35,000 in grants and donations to plan and build it, city records said.


The city spent $2,500 on the park, and the city had hoped to eventually add to the park, officials said.


Harry said he's disappointed the citizens skatepark committee hasn't been more involved in stemming problems at the park.


"We've invited the skatepark group to (city committee) meetings to talk about these problems. We can't get them to really acknowledge us anymore," Harry said.


Paula Forss, spouse of skatepark committee member Brian Forss, said her husband and a few others had tried to deal with problems at the skatepark. She said the group tried to get a helmet rental program started and had talked with youths, neighbors and police about issues at the park.


Forss said the group's efforts fizzled under the strain of constant complaints from neighbors near the park. The group, which once included six parents, has basically disbanded, Forss said.


"It got to be too much. It would have been a full-time job for how difficult it was," she said.


Forss said after volunteers and officials poured money and effort into creating a place for youths to skate, the city's closure of the park seems abrupt.


"Say someone threw something into the (city) swimming pool or did something vandalistic to it. I don't think they'd shut it down," Forss said. "Is there maybe some other way of solving this?"


Noise of ramps bothers some residents

Vandalism at Central Park isn't the only problem tied to the city's skatepark, officials said.


Brent Harry, chairman of the city's parks and recreation committee, said the city' has heard complaints that residents are bothered by noise from the skatepark's metal ramps.


"When you have several kids using the skatepark, you'll hear this constant ringing and echoing noise going through the neighborhood," Harry said.


With the ramps now mothballed, the city is looking at retrofitting them with a sound-deadening material, Harry said.


Resident Melvin Deml, who lives across the street from Central Park, said he told the city he's more worried about youths at the skatepark yelling and using profanity.


"All I wanted was some noise control and some supervision," Deml said.


"I take my grandkids to the park. It got to the point where I didn't even want them to be around there with all of the vulgar, foul language going on," Deml said.


Harry said noise isn't the main reason why the city removed the skatepark's ramps.


"If it were just the noise and we didn't have vandalism and other things going on, we wouldn't be at this point," he said.



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