Friday, April 16, 2010

My town is failing its youth......

My town is failing its youth......

Skateboard park may not be gone forever
By Brenna McCabe, Valley Breeze Staff Writer
NORTH SMITHFIELD - The removal of the skateboard park at Pacheco Park adjacent to Main Street has members of the community upset, but Parks and Recreation Director Raymond Pendergast said further evaluation is needed to address safety and the vandalism that has been taking place at the park.
"We've been having problems since it was installed in 2000," he told The Breeze last week. "We're actually required to inspect it as a condition of the insurance policy we have with the Interlocal Trust."
After an insurance representative inspected the park last month, it was clear it wasn't going to let the department "continue with business as usual," he said.
Pendergast brought up the insurance group's concerns to the Town Council at its last meeting, and councilors voted unanimously to dismantle the skate park until further notice.
"I really think this is more than just a skateboard park issue," Town Administrator Paulette Hamilton said. "I think this sheds light on a bigger issue - there's nothing to do in this town for kids."
She said she would not be so presumptuous to "know what kids want," but said kids need an outlet for safe, drug-free activities. In response to the council's decision, Hamilton is attempting to create a focus group with parents, children, and representatives from the Substance Abuse Task Force to discuss options for the skateboard park. Ten years ago, it was the Substance Abuse Task Force that donated a bulk of the $20,000 to install the park in the first place.
"Ideally, if this was a perfect world, there would be people in our parks to constantly oversee activities to make sure everything is running as smooth as possible," she said, "but we just don't have the opportunity or manpower. There's been an awful lot of vandalism, trashing of the park and broken bottles in the parking lots. We have to turn it around so we can do this correctly."
Pendergast is collecting data for a report to assist in the evaluation of the skate park, which will include past violations of park rules, police reports and documented time his department has spent either repairing damages or cleaning the park.
"Our personnel spends two to three hours when they're down there," he said. "We can't keep doing that."
Few children lingered near the old skateboard park in the afternoon hours last week, but there were still a handful on bikes and skateboards swerving around the parking lot.
Nick Franke, 12, said he was disappointed the town took the park away.
"We never thought they'd do that," he said. "This is really the only fun place older kids get to hang out. We're not going to use the playground anymore. We're too old for that."
Franke said on an average day, there would be between 20 and 25 people between the ages of 12 and 21 hanging out at the park and using the skate ramps after school.
The park drew a crowd from as far away as Milford, with "not much else to do in the area," 20-year-old Joe Vario of Milford said.
Vario admitted most of the kids using the skate park broke ramp rules, refusing to wear helmets.
"There were a lot of cops cracking down on that last year," he said, "but lately, there haven't been too many around and kids just don't want to wear helmets."
Pendergast, also the director of Public Works, said he believes a solution might be to move the skateboard park to a place that is more visible. If the park wasn't so isolated, he added, there would be less of a chance kids would violate the town's skateboard park rules and damage town property, which under its insurance agreement, it is obligated to repair each time damage is recorded to ensure safety.
"Someone is going to have to try to convince me otherwise, but when you have an unsecured program, i.e. the skateboard park, there's no monitoring or supervision," he said. "It's in an isolated park. God forbid one of those kids landed on that fence."
Pendergast said the council might consider putting the ramps near an adjacent plot behind the municipal annex next to the police station, as a previous council did before the skateboard ramp was installed in 2000.
He said surveillance cameras are always a suggestion, but the cost affixed to that might be unrealistic with town budgets stretched thin.
"That was one of the suggestions I have, and if the council wants to insert some extra money when the location is chosen, then they can do that. It's their decision," he said.

Valley Breeze April 15th 2010

Friday, April 9, 2010

Monkdeth Raffle Tonight

Gave some goods to our friends, Soul Drive for them to raffle off at their gig at Rosies in Warwick - all of the cash made from the raffle will be donated to a cash fund to help out people from last weeks rain in Rhode Island.

Check out soul drive at Rosies Tonight April 9th at Rosies in Warwick!