- Published on Wednesday, 23 October 2013 21:10
- Written by Super User
The Town of Carolina Beach recently had to close their skate park to remove offensive graffiti. The park was reopened the following the day. They are now enforcing a requirement to obtain a pass to use the park.
By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
CAROLINA BEACH - The Town of Carolina Beach closed their skate park at Mike Chappel Park last week to clean off offensive graffiti. The park was closed on Tuesday October 15th and reopened the following day.
A notice posted at the park stated, "Until further notice, the Carolina Beach Skate Park is closed due to graffiti and vandalism in the skate area and surrounding parks. The skate park is currently closed during all hours of operation to all skaters. Anyone inside the skate park fencing is considered trespassing and will be prosecuted. Sorry for any inconvenience to all responsible, rule abiding skaters who use the skate park."
On Sunday October 20th, Town Councilman Steve Shuttleworth wrote in an email to Assistant Town Manager Ed Parvin, "Ed Please pass this on to Mike when he gets in. I have copied both Chief Humpries and Parks Director Eric Jelinski on this email. I know we have had several incidents in the past few weeks of spray painting at the park. I was contacted by several residents this weekend who were very upset at the approach we took at the skate park this weekend."
Shuttleworth explained, "Specifically the energy and man power we devoted with police officers to enforce the registration rule. Everyone understands the rule has been in place for some time, and we all know it hasn't been really enforced. To deny admission to the park if you weren't registered on a weekend when it was impossible to go register seemed unfair, and perhaps punitive."
He explained, "Clearly we have had some increased issues with vandalism in the skate park and other areas of Mike Chapel Park. The other question that came up and I don't know the answer was: what is the policy to register to use the outdoor basketball and outdoor tennis courts? It felt to some that the skaters were being singled out by enforcing the registration policy when the incidents occurred at night not on Saturday and Sunday afternoons."
Shuttle wrote, "What did happen this weekend is we alienated some families with young kids and others. That is certainly not what you or staff want I' m sure. What no one wants is to set up a conflict between residents who want to utilize our parks and the police who are instructed to enforce policy. Perhaps just a little tuning on the approach. It is all about customer service."
He explained, "Several folks made very good suggestions on how we might approach the situation and turn it into a positive. 1) Instead of sending just police officers to check registration and have unregistered folks leave. Perhaps we could set up a table with a parks and rec staff person for a few hours on the next several weekends and inform folks and help them register at the park itself. 2) We could host a community clean up day and allow folks to come help if needed to clean up the skate park. This is a dedicated group of families who frequent the park and want to teach their children positives. 3) Redo the signs when we redo the cameras 4) Offer a paint party day and let the crowd who want to tag stuff have a concrete canvas to show off. Not all tagging is vulgar. 5) Place a large rock in the area for taggers to paint. This has worked well in other communities and even at Ashley high school. These are just a few suggestions."
Parks and Recreation Director Eric Jelinski said it takes a lot for him to close the skate park. On Tuesday October 22, Jelinski said previous issues with spray paint graffiti at the park were not vulgar in nature and didn't warrant closing the area.
He said last week's graffiti was satanic and vulgar and they made a decision to close the park until it could be removed.
He said last weekend people were told they had to register at the Recreation Center to sign a waiver of liability and obtain a pass. The passes are free and the center was open on Saturday until 4pm and from 1pm to 5pm on Sunday.
He said, "They can obtain a permit seven days a week and we had people coming in over the weekend registering for passes. Parents understood the need for a pass and signing a waiver."
He said one possible solution the Recreation Department is considering is to facilitate a program where talented youth can paint non-offensive graffiti on the skate park concrete. He said it's a lot easier to paint over future graffiti than to remove it.
Parks and Programs Superintendent Tim Murphy said the goal is to educate people about the rules and provide a clean park for everyone to use.
The Town will be spot-checking the park to ensure compliance with the rules such as wearing proper safety gear and will direct people to the Recreation Center to sign the waiver and obtain their pass.
On Tuesday Mayor Bob Lewis explained, "I am not sure how this situation happened. It could of been a bit of over-reaction on the part of the Recreation Department and the Police Department after an incident of vandalism. Whatever the case I think it could of been done with more notification and communication with the community at large."
Lewis explained, "I agree with Steve in that we should consider alternatives: 1) Instead of sending just police officers to check registration and have unregistered folks leave. Perhaps we could set up a table with a parks and rec staff person for a few hours on the next several weekends and inform folks and help them register at the park itself. 2) We could host a community clean up day and allow
folks to come help if needed to clean up the skate park. This is a dedicated group of families who frequent the park and want to tech their children positives. 3) Redo the signs age when we redo the cameras. 4) Offer a paint party day and let the crowd who want to tag stuff have a concrete canvas to show off. Not all tagging is vulgar. 5) Place a large rock in the area for taggers to paint."
Lewis explained, "The concern is the type of tag and message that was out there and the vandalism to the bathrooms after all the hard work to clean them up. I think everyone will agree that the registration policy is more a focus on protecting our children
from potential predators. Lets face it when you go to the Skate Park you will see adults of all ages skating with children."
Jelinski described the vandalism as naming a satanic music band and an upside down cross painted on the skate park surface. Elsewhere in the park there were vulgar words and outlines of male genitalia painted in the restrooms.
Murphy said that was the major difference from previous incidents of graffiti, this time it was vulgar, the park was closed to permit cleaning and reopened the next day.