Ogden skaters and city at odds about city park

http://www.good4utah.com/story/d/story/ogden-skaters-and-city-at-odds-about-skate-park/61330/tAKEVQolzE-v7lQILukmjg

OGDEN, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) – Lorrin Farr Skate Park has had some problems in the past. A few years ago the park was actually shut down due to vandalism, graffiti, and drugs among other things. But, skateboarders have cleaned up their act, and now they feel they’ve been neglected by the city.

Dustin Clark has been coming to this skate park since it opened in 2000. Since then, he’s noticed the state of the park slip between the cracks.

“These cracks needed to be grouted years ago, but as it keeps getting rained in it’s just gonna keep ruining the structure of the park,” said Clark.

Besides cracks and the wear and tear the skate park has experienced skaters say the drainage system doesn’t work. Skaters in the past have taken plungers and tried to unclog the drain after thunderstorms flooded their park.

“A biker broke that rail, that they’re sitting on, and somebody – a local person came and re-welded it – as far as the city coming to do any repairs, I’ve never heard of the city coming to do any repairs,” added Andre Nash.

According to the city, maintenance is done on the park each year. However, with dozens of parks to check on, they can’t always meet the necessary demands.

“Maintenance is a diffuclt issue, especially with budget constraints that we have we try to do our very best with that we have to work with,” said Public Works and Parks Manager Perry Hufftaker.

The city and the park has not been without it’s problems. About 2 years ago the city closed down the park because of drug, underage drinking, and constant graffiti. Skaters however say they’ve cleaned up their act and try to enforce the rules at the park.

“We pick up the trash daily, we try to police the park, we try to keep people from fighting, we try to keep graffiti out, just generally just trying to keep it a safe area for kids to come and learn how to skateboard,” added Clark.

Skaters feel even with their increased effort in maintaining the park, the city continues to neglect their needs. They say this as they notice other areas of the park develop, improve, and continue to be maintained.

“Why, the neglect? We’re just as much apart of the community as every other park, but the neglect is, as you can see if you walk around our park it seems like they don’t care,” said Clark.

Ogden Reborn, a local organization jumped when a local skater reached out to them asking for their help.

They started a petition and quickly, Kenzie Colye with Ogden Reborn says, they received overwhelming support.

“In about two weeks we got about a thousand signatures, and it just exploded. I didn’t know anything about skating, but these guys have taught me so much, an I never really realized just how badly they really need this from what I hear what they say, and I’ve been here a few times just looking at it and it’s just not working out,” she said.

The city has already been out to evaluate the condition of the park and noted ways that they can improve it.

“There’s some spots in the concrete, there’s some spots in the concrete that cold get some filler, there’s a few cracks that just need to be filled, but in large, the skate park functions as well as it has in the past,” said Hufftaker.

While functional, skaters say that’s not the point.

“I remember hearing the park director saying ‘It’s functional,’ but, when is functional not dangerous? It’s like if you say a playground is functional – is that safe?” said Clark.

Ogden Reborn says the park is essential to the community because of the high popularity of skateboarding in the city.

“It just keeps kids active, motivated, outdoors, it keeps them healthy, it keeps them out of drug use it keeps them from business parking lots, it’s just a safe place for them to skate,” said Colye.

Ogden Reborn and skaters say the park is outdated. They’re looking to expand up on the skate park and see some new features added to it. They feel a new more improved park would be great for the city.

“One of the things is we’re citizens of Ogden and we’re not spending money here in our own town, the skate board community is forced to go outside of Ogden to get skateboards to skate a decent park,” said Clark.

Clark says he has seen many skaters head off to other cities including Provo and Salt Lake City to skate in those skate parks. They feel a more updated park would bring more business and revenue for the city. It would also keep more kids off the streets and in a safe area where they can skate.

In the meantime, Ogden Reborn is building up its arsenal. Receiving signatures on petitions, partnering with local businesses and doing whatever research they can to present a well-uniformed plan to the city.

“We want as many people behind us before we just go and say ‘hey, we need this,’ we want big names on our side, maybe the man who built it, maybe people who want to rebuild it, folders with things that are wrong or lawsuits that could be made, just try to see what they [city council] can do,” said Colye.

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