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Bright idea enables skate park to reopen
Bright idea enables skate park to reopen
By SUE REID
Without a monitor and with more safety regulations in place, the skate park at the Solon Community Park will reopen June 29.
Discussion on the issue took place at last week's meeting of City Council's safety and public properties committee. The committee unanimously approved a motion adopting rules and regulations with an appropriate waiver and indemnification. A memorandum will be sent to other council members, advising them of the recommendation.
The skate park was closed after a fight March 27 in which Solon police were contacted.
Recreation Director Donald W. Holub told the committee that, after discussion with the city's law director and insurance carrier, it was decided that the best option would be to open the park without monitors. In addition, there would be a regulation requiring brightly colored T-shirts to be worn by skate-park participants, he said.
Assistant Recreation Director Russell J. Schneider said that, since there will not be a monitor, the use of identifying T-shirts will be a lot easier for the recreation department to spot those who are not participants. He said recreation department employees and the police department will do frequent checks on the area. "Since we can't monitor, this is probably the best way," he said.
Councilman William I. Russo commended Mr. Holub and Mr. Schneider for coming up with a "workable and reasonable solution" and not taking the easy way out by closing the park.
Solon resident Betsi Staugh, who attended the meeting and whose son, Jack, is an avid skateboarder, agreed they should be commended on their efforts with regard to keeping open the park. But she asked the committee to reconsider two points.
She said she does not agree with the use of the brightly colored T-shirts. "I came away with the impression of yellow DUI plates, orange jumpsuits and sex-offender lists," Ms. Staugh said. She said she completely agrees with identification cards and potential fees.
"These guys really want to get skating," she said.
In addition, Ms. Staugh objected to the skating hours set as part of the new proposed regulations. They are from 2 to 7 p.m. weekdays and noon to 7 p.m. weekends. She said her son works until 6 p.m., and, by the time he stops home to have a bite to eat, the park will be closed. She suggested the park stay open until dusk. The committee members and Mr. Holub and Mr. Schneider agreed to make that adjustment.
"Thank you for continuing to try to make this happen for our boys," Ms. Staugh said.
Councilman Edward Suit disagreed with Ms. Staugh's impression of the T-shirts and said he sees them as more of a "skateboarding team." He said, "Those shirts are important. It's an easy identification for those driving by. There has to be some identification." He said the T-shirts are a "deal breaker" for him, and, if they were not required, he would vote against the motion.
Mr. Suit said he is not married to the 7 p.m. closing time and would agree to extend those hours.
"Dusk would not be a problem," Mr. Holub said.
Solon resident Allyn Friedman also objected to the brightly colored shirts. "I find the colored shirt an issue that could cause problems," she said. "It's like trying to identify a penguin," she said of trying to determine who is causing problems if all of the kids are wearing the same shirt.
"To have a monochromatic sea of skaters could be a detriment," Ms. Friedman said.
Her son, Chad Friedman, also disagreed with the shirts. He said, if it's cold out, he would not be wanting to wear just a T-shirt.
"I skate in 3 feet of snow," resident Brent McCulley told the committee, "so, if it's 25 or 30 degrees, I won't be wearing a T-shirt."
Mr. McCulley said the people who skate at the park are not the ones causing the problems. People who skate there are using the park respectfully and appreciate it, he said. "A few bad eggs came in and ruined it."
Mr. Russo said he never wanted to penalize the people who use the park respectfully and close it due to the actions of others. He said the city should start implementing what has been proposed regarding the park.
"We are willing to compromise, and this whole process is a compromise," Mr. Holub said.
He said they are not putting T-shirts on kids to identify them as criminals but to identify those who are not wearing shirts and standing outside and causing problems.
Some of the other regulations proposed include that the park is open to Solon residents only, that there be no smoking or profanity and no skating outside of the designated area. Violations of any of the rules proposed will result in privileges being revoked for use of the skate park.
Mr. Suit said it is important that if skaters see a problem, they should call 911 or alert a member of the recreation staff and not try to handle the situation themselves.
"This will partially be in your hands to enforce," Mr. Suit said.
Mr. Holub said his department would look at this again after the summer is over and tweak the regulations if need to be. "We don't propose to have all the answers," he said.
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