City to close down skate park – for nowAfter listening to comments about the park and recent problems there, Parks Commission members informally took the recommendation made by city councilors to close it down, at least temporarily.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
After listening to comments about the park and recent problems there, Parks Commission members informally took the recommendation made by city councilors to close it down, at least temporarily.
The discussion went well between everyone, according to Brian Fritsinger, Cloquet city administrator.
“Most of the young people had a very strong understanding of the problems,” he said.
Recent criminal activity and complaints to law enforcement, along with aging equipment, led the city to remove all but four skating ramps last fall.
“We wanted to see what reaction we would get,” said Fritsinger. “We really hadn’t heard much from the public, but the problems have remained.”
The problems largely stem from people hanging out at the park who are not skate boarding, according to Erik Blesener, city council member and Cloquet police sergeant.
“There is alcohol and drug activity and there have been gang-related altercations between young people,” he said.
Derik Smith, 19, of Mahtowa, agreed with the decision to temporarily close the park.
“The skate park needs to be in a more visible place with more traffic,” he said.
Smith is a former skate boarder who doesn’t use the park but he wanted to speak up for the youth in the area.
“I used to skate in Winona, Minn., and their park was monitored and people had to pay a fee to get in,” he said. “I want to give my input on how I’ve seen skate parks work so Cloquet can keep a place for kids to do their sport.”
He and six others will get a chance to give their input about the skate park – they’ve formed a committee with members of the commission and city employees. Their first meeting will be Tuesday morning at the skate park.
“They want us to give input on different locations and for raising money to buy new equipment,” Smith explained.
The equipment, purchased some 10 years ago when the park opened, is at the end of its useful life, Fritsinger said, and new equipment will be needed if the park is relocated.
“It’s all wood-based equipment and we’d likely be looking at purchasing the new plastic/rubber kind,” he said.
There is no set day when the park will be closed and the equipment will be removed, because the city’s maintenance department is short on staff. The request will be put on a list and the city will remove it sometime in the coming weeks, according to Fritsinger.
“We may have to put the location back to green space eventually,” he said.