Skateboard park gets another chance |

Skateboard park gets another chance

After threatening to shut down the Bijou Community Park skateboard park two months ago, city officials have now chosen a milder response to vandalism and the lack of protective gear worn by many of the skaters.

“We have a separate officer dedicated to patrolling the park seven days a week now from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.,” said park superintendent Steve Weiss. “Then, after 6 p.m., the regular park officer goes through the skate park on a periodic basis, along with his other duties, until 1 a.m.”

Beyond generally keeping the peace, the new patrolman, hired from the private security company High Sierra Patrol, also is responsible for making sure park-users wear protective gear and refrain from littering. This enforcement program began Aug. 1 and will continue until Sept. 12, Weiss said, at which time the position will be further evaluated by the city.

“People that choose to follow the rules are having a much better and more enjoyable experience,” Weiss said. “Also, younger children are now able to enjoy the experience as well, without older users shoving them aside and not letting them skate.”

Weiss said a concession stand might open next year at the park, combining education and enforcement of the rules into one job.

Although shortly after the new patrolman started, vandals ripped donated wooden signs off the walls, broke them and threw them into the woods during the night. However, city manager Kerry Miller said the results are mostly encouraging.

“The feedback I’m getting is that it has made a huge difference. Both users of the park and parents have said it has become a much more friendly environment,” Miller said. “I hear that the compliance level is much higher and the vandalism has almost completely ceased.”

Miller said the patrolman is being paid out of a contingency fund from the city’s annual budget.

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