2007-09-20 / News

Conditions improving at skate park

By Adrienne Downing

Things at the Jamestown skate park have been relatively quiet since the Labor Day weekend vandalism that threatened to shut down the park.

"We came out the next day (Wednesday) after we found the first round and it was a mess again, but since the word got out in the Press, we have done dozens of checks and it seems as though they are taking ownership of the park and keeping it clean," recreation director Bill Piva said.

So far, not only have no other incidences of vandalism taken place, but there has also been an effort to keep the area picked up, Piva noted.

People have taken advantage of the ability to leave anonymous tips with the recreation or police departments.

"We have had some tips and we are still sorting through those, but so far we have nothing with defi- nite proof," Piva said. "Kids and parents are concerned so they are reporting what they know, but kids are still concerned about ratting on someone. They need to realize the alternative."

The same day the article about the damage was printed in the Press, North Providence dismantled their skate park after facing some of the same issues as the Jamestown park.

The $95,000 park was dismantled just eight months after it opened because of complaints about noise, vandalism, and litter.

Jamestown's efforts to make sure their park does not meet the same fate have some support from local leaders.

Police Chief Thomas Tighe has increased patrols in the area and is making sure the officers are a visible force at the park.

"We have always driven by the park, but we didn't go up there unless we were responding to a call. Now we drive right up to the park and get out of the car," said Sgt. Keith Woodbine of the Jamestown Police Department.

Woodbine said he has seen a difference in the numbers of people hanging out illegally after dark now that they know the police will be checking the area at least three times a night.

"They will actually pull their cars right up on the grass and turn their headlights on," he said.

Those who the police have had to speak to about not wearing helmets or being there at unauthorized hours have been "pretty respectful" Woodbine said.

Councilwoman Barbara Szepatowski said she supports the park and does not want to see it closed. She called a skateboard store, whose information appeared on stickers on the vandalized signs, and asked that they remove the skate park from their list so it does not attract even more out-of-town visitors.

Piva said that installing cameras at the park is still an option that is in the works, but that most of the effort has to come from park users.

"This is a top priority for the parks and recreation department right now," he concluded. "What has been happening is a step in the right direction. It is exactly what we hoped for, but it has to be an ongoing thing."

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