A community meeting was recently held to discuss problems associated with the skateboard park. The finger of blame is not being pointed at the skateboarders, however. TINA COMEAU PHOTO
By Tina Comeau
Those who gathered for a June 5 community meeting said it isn’t the skateboarders that are the problem, but there are problems tied to the Yarmouth skateboard park.
It’s felt the majority of the problems are connected to those who loiter at or around the park, particularly late at night and in the wee hours of the morning when the park is closed. Kids who have dreamed of having a facility like this for skateboarding are there for the right reasons, it was stated. But there are others who don’t respect the park or the neighbouring properties or residents.
Residents in the area complain of vandalism both at the park and directed at their properties.
Smoking up, drinking, littering, fires and speeding vehicles are other concerns.
One woman said she won’t let her grandchildren walk to the park unless she is with them because of the speeding vehicles.
Another concern is bullying and intimidation, which is targeted at users of the park and area residents.
“I don’t like coming to home at 10 p.m. and having 20 kids standing where I have to walk through, it’s intimidating,” said a resident. “And when you ask them to let you by they give you the look.”
So what can be done? This is what Mayor Pam Mood wants to figure out. She called the community meeting. While she couldn’t make promises that all of the issues can go away, she hopes a collective approach in finding solutions can make things better.
A web cam is being installed at the park. During the meeting there was talk about installing concrete benches so parents and other adults have places to sit. There was discussion about using concrete flower planters to stop parking in an area where vehicles gather. The town is being asked to look at the installation of speed bumps on side streets in areas adjacent to the park.
The RCMP said they would try to do more patrols but pointed out with limited resources they can’t be there all of the time. Sergeant Jeff Holmes spoke about having talks with kids at the park, particularly those causing problems if they can be identified. He also said the RCMP are looking to launch an initiative in the schools in the fall that may help curb problem behaviour.
Sgt. Holmes said over a year’s time they’ve only received six registered complaints pertaining to the park. If there are more things the RCMP should be aware of residents are encouraged to pass along these concerns.
One thing those at the meeting don’t want is to see this stigmatized as being a “south end” problem because of the location of the park.
Frank Grant of Yarmouth Recreation said location is not the factor. He said they have problems with vandalism at recreational facilities throughout the town and county.
It isn’t just young people who use the park. There are adult skateboarders as well. One of them, Chris LeBlanc, said when he was a kid it would have been his dream to have a park like this. He doesn’t want to see others ruin the experience for skateboarders who are thankful to have the park.
“I just don’t want the skaters to get a bad rap,” he said, adding it bothers him when he sees young children sitting on the ramps at 10:30 at night or later on a school night. Posted hours say the park closes at 10 p.m. “Where is the parental supervision? We can only lead by example so much,” he said about users of the park who are behaving appropriately.