Future of skate park rests in hands of users

— The youth in Hayden who use the town's skateboard park should not take their skating or biking privileges for granted, Hayden town officials said Thursday night.

The Hayden Town Board stressed the importance of children and teenagers taking responsibility for the condition of the skateboard park.

Local law enforcement offered their concerns about recent vandalism and the lapse of safety that persists at the park.

Patrons who are caught without a helmet or littering on the park grounds often repeat the offense, Code Enforcement Officer Ed Corriveau said.

Corriveau said he verbally warns first-time offenders.

A town ordinance permits officers to revoke the rights of patrons who disregard the rules a second time.

An increase of trash, including broken glass, concerns police officers.

Corriveau said he would like to see park rules amended to include the prohibition of glass bottles.

"This is a liability issue, and we've got to do something about it before someone gets hurt," he said.

Children and teenagers who obey the helmet law receive coupons for free ice cream at a local restaurant.

While the incentive has improved helmet use, Officer Darin Falk said, it has also created a headache for officers.

Children now expect the reward to the point of chasing down officers for the free coupons, he said.

"It didn't solve any problems," Falk said.

The Town Board previously budgeted $7,500 for the purchase of new ramps in the skateboard park.

Trustees were hesitant Thursday night about the recreation board using the money to install new equipment that might be vandalized.

Trustee Festus Hagins, who also heads the recreation board, suggested only some of the money be used until skateboard patrons proved they would not abuse any new additions to the park.

"I would rather see them deserve the right for the new equipment," Mayor Chuck Grobe said.

Town Manager Rob Straebel encouraged trustees not to penalize the majority of park users for the behavior of a few irresponsible patrons.

A few residents asked the Town Board not to take away the rights of all patrons for the misdeeds of a small group of offenders.

Falk said a few teenagers at the skateboard park volunteered to build the ramps if the town gave them the money for the materials.

Volunteers helped to construct the original ramps in the summer of 1998 after the town received some funding from Greater Outdoors Colorado.

Giving park users the opportunity to build ramps would be a less expensive option than purchasing ramps that were already constructed, Falk said.

Teenagers would also respect the new equipment more if they played a major role in their existence, he added.

"If you put your own time, your own sweat into something, then you will respect it more," Falk said.

Because the town's insurance provider requires that any plans for new equipment at the skateboard park be certified, a local civil engineer volunteered to donate plans to the town.

The Town Board agreed to return to concerns about park safety and vandalism next month in the hope that people who use the park will take responsibility for current misuse of the facility and take measures to correct it.

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