Vandalism raises community concern at skate park

Tyrese Norn, 11, practises his table-top gaps at the Stewart Street skate park in Hay River.
— Jesse Winter/ NNSL photo

This summer, local skaters and BMX riders had a place to call home for the first time. The temporary skate part next to the Pine Point ballpark was a trial run to see whether kids and the community would use or abuse a skate park, and by most accounts the summer went well.It was awesome. It gives kids something to do without organizing, and school sports. It’s a positive thing for sure,” said 15-year-old Levon Schumann.

Schumann said he and his friends used the park at least once a day all summer long. With the park now closed and the ramps gone for the winter, some local residents are raising concerns about vandalism in the area and Schumann is worried it will reflect badly on him and his peers.

We never saw any vandalism there. There were kids out in force, and lots of my friends would keep it clean. It’s a really positive group of kids that use it. Vandalism happens everywhere,” Schumann said.

Sometime last weekend, someone spray painted the ball park bleachers, and residents report seeing people smoking and loitering behind the facilities.

Dorie Hanson is one of the residents who lives near by and said she’s worried about the vandalism to the ballpark and skate park.

Saturday morning I got up and someone spray painted the back of the skateboard facilities, and written on the shed beside my house and apparently on the back of the ball stands,” Hanson said.

It’s frustrating watching the degradation from her kitchen window, she said. She had originally opposed putting a skate park at the Pine Point recreation grounds, but having watched kids use it over the summer, she came to realize how important it is to the skaters. She said she doesn’t blame them for the vandalism, but worries that the Pine Point location isn’t the best place for a skate park.

In fairness to the kids, they’ve done a very good job of respecting the space. The kids have been great, and we haven’t really noticed anything. I think it’s wonderful to have for kids in this town. But it’s about the location. Unless you drive up or get out of your vehicle, you can’t see what’s going on. We need to find a location that is visible, that doesn’t offer easy access to drug dealers or anyone else,” she said.

Louise Schumann is with the skate park committee. She said that the Pine Point location wasn’t their first pick for a park, but was provided by the town on a trial basis. She also heard no reports of skater-related vandalism over the summer, but said the committee would definitely be open to looking for a new location for next summer.

That location is not the first pick of the skate park committee. Our plan, presented to town council, we are looking for an alternate spot,” Louise said. The committee is also considering a space beside the recreation centre or behind the library, Schumann said.

Wherever next summer’s park ends up, Levon and his fellow BMX riders just hope they don’t get blamed for the recent vandalism.

I can’t imagine what those kids would be doing if it weren’t there, for all those kids that aren’t in organized sports. Without it I think there’d be even more vandalism,” he said.

— Jesse Winter