Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

Not yet: 2010 town skatepark season awaits signage

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Were a bunch of kids rousted by the cops on Wednesday as they enjoyed the fine spring weather at the skate park off 15th Street?

Or did the kids have no business being there in the first place because the very first kid inside the park got there by busting into the place?

Depends on whom you ask.

On Thursday the Chesterton Tribune received an angry e-mail from the father of one of the 25 or so other skateboarders who were told to leave the park on Wednesday afternoon by a Chesterton police officer.

“The police officer stated that it hasn’t been open yet for the season,” the father wrote in the e-mail. “Funny thing is, the gate has no lock on it and there is no sign stating the hours, rules, or when the park is closed. This is like putting a bone in front of a dog and not letting him have it.”

“All the other parks in town are always open,” the father added. “What is going on? I call this bullying. I know this is the way this town has always been toward the youth because I grew up here and also was a skateboarder in my youth. The cops come there and just sit and watch for trouble. Let these kids be. This kind of mentality has to stop so our kids can enjoy what they rallied for.”

Police Chief George Nelson, however, gave the Tribune this account of events. On Wednesday afternoon an officer was dispatched to the Prairie Duneland Trail after receiving a report of mopeds being illegally driven on the trail. “The officer went to investigate and noticed that gate to the skate park was still locked but that someone had taken it upon themselves to unbolt the brackets of the fencing and then peel it back,” Nelson said. “The skate park was entered that way. Then the locked gate was pushed open.”

The officer, Nelson said, unsure of what to do next, contacted Superintendent Bruce Mathias, who told the officer that the park is officially closed and to instruct the skateboarders to leave. Mathias himself then came to the scene.

In short, Nelson said, “it was an act of vandalism and of trespass.”

Mathias picked up the story from there. In fact there was a lock on the gate, he said. Not a very good one, as it turns out, and not capable of resisting a sustained push. “The fencing was peeled back and then the gate was pushed open from the inside. The lock was still on the gate. It’s not the most serious lock.”

“If there’s a lock on it, there’s a reason for that,” Mathias said, then added that it took 90 minutes or so to repair the damage to the fencing.

Mathias did agree with the angry father that there currently is no signage posted at the park giving the hours of operation and the rules. But there soon will be, since he and Town Attorney Chuck Lukmann have only just this week been discussing the wording on the signage.

At some point, Mathias explained, the town’s insurance carrier visited the skate park and was unhappy, for liability reasons, that no signage articulating the facility’s rules had been posted. That’s why, he said, the skate park was closed and locked, to give him and Lukmann the opportunity to formulate those rules.

“The State of Indiana requires that if you’ve got park equipment on which kids can get hurt, you have to post rules” for its usage.

“We’re getting the exact wording for signs worked out now, the signage will be made soon, and then we’ll put it up and open the park,” Mathias said.


Posted 3/12/2010







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