McPherson wants police to crack down on violators or "fill it in"

It's the gift that just keeps giving; but what it's giving is a pain.

The West Side Recreation and Park District Board of Directors had some negative things to say about the Taft Skate Park at their monthly meeting in June, calling it "a real mess."

The Skate Park, which is on district property, was built by the city and donated to the district. It has proven to be a painful gift that just keeps giving – pain.

One way to alleviate that pain, a director suggested, is to fill-in the Skate Park with dirt.

It is designed only for skateboarding and bicycles are prohibited. But while the board's meeting was in progress, bicyclists could clearly be seen using the facility.

While all the directors expressed irritation with the Skate Park, the most outspoken was Bill McPherson.

"I would like to make this an agenda item (at the August meeting) and bring the city down here," McPherson said.

"They (the city) are the ones that built the Skate Park, gave themselves a pat on the back and then turned it over to us and the mess that goes with it.

"They don't want to do anything to enforce the laws (at the Skate Park).

"Here's the deal, sure we will open the gates – do something about it or we will fill it up with dirt and force them (the skateboarders) back within the downtown area. It's either one or the other, somebody is going to have to man-up.

"And to be honest with you, I would just rather see it filled with dirt."

District Administrator Don Koenig said the Taft Police Department is concerned with the safety of Skate Park-users crossing 10th Street directly to and from the park instead of going to the 10th and Kern streets intersection to cross with the signal.

Police Chief Ed Whiting asked if the district would open the gate on the west (district) side of the Skate Park to prevent users from going directly out onto 10th Street, Koenig said.

Koenig stated a concern that opening the west gate could lead to added foot, skateboard and bicycle traffic across the district's grounds, with the possibility of graffiti and vandalism of the district's structures.

The directors stated several concerns about the Skate Park. They include: its need to be monitored constantly to keep bicyclists out, to prevent them from injuring skateboarders; the older – non-teenage -- element attracted to the park; the possibility of graffiti on buildings if park-users travel through the district property; and constant problems including fighting and littering.

Koenig will be inviting Whiting and/or a city official to attend the next board meeting.

Due to planned vacations in July by staff and board members, the next board meeting won't be held until 6 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 15.