*** City Keeps Skaters/BMXers Out ***
STAMFORD, CT -- 07/02/2007
Even before it opens next week,
the new skate
park at Scalzi Park is so popular that city officials
chasing out skaters and BMX bike riders.
City officials became alarmed when they learned
skateboarders have been using it. So they put trash
cans, sheets of
plywood and sawhorses inside the
bowl-shaped park to keep out trespassers.
hired off-duty police officers and park police to patrol
"Unfortunately the timing of this is that it's the first
school is out, the weather is beautiful, and our insurance
doesn't start until next week," city Director of
Operations Ben Barnes
Grindline Skateparks of Seattle finished construction on
the concrete arena June 15, about two weeks ahead of
schedule. But it
won't open until a fence is installed around
the perimeter because of
liability concerns, Parks
Superintendent Mickey Docimo said.
"Right now, with everything we've done, it's not
The city paid Grindline $309,850 to design and
arena in Scalzi Park on Bridge Street.
Barnes said the city hired security at a cost of about
$4,000 only after other methods - including wetting
the concrete with
sprinklers - failed to deter skaters.
Photographs posted on the Internet show skateboarders
Grindline workers testing the park while it was
The other option was to spend $8,000 to $10,000 on
temporary fence, which didn't seem worthwhile, because
people could jump
the fence, Barnes said.
"These are determined, athletic and risk-taking individuals,"
Risk Manager Ann Marie Mones said the park cannot
until an 8-foot chain-link fence is installed, the arena is insured,
and a part-time attendant is stationed there.
"We have to do what we have to do to protect
and protect taxpayers," Mones said.
The city's general liability insurance covers claims up
$25 million but has a $1 million deductible. Mones said
purchasing an additional policy for about $6,000
a year that will cover the
deductible for skate park claims.
The policy was to take effect
"We didn't know the park was going to be finished so ahead
of schedule, so we didn't know to get the policy in place sooner,"
The park was scheduled to be completed later this
Initially, officials did not plan to staff the park. Now the
Scalzi Park attendant and park police will keep an eye
on the park
because they expect many skaters in the first
few weeks. City officials will
decide whether more supervision
is needed once the facility opens, Recreation
Laurie Albano said.
"I think the management of it is going to evolve as we go,"
Mones said she had difficulty finding an insurance
to issue a policy for a skate park with a part-time
"Many of them wouldn't even look at us because
have a full-time attendant," she said.
The park will be open from 8 a.m. until a half-hour
dusk. The gate will be locked when it is closed.
Thursday afternoon, a park ranger guarded the concrete
bowl while a crew began work on the fence. A sign warned
"Site under construction; no trespassing."
Joseph Barbarotta, the contractor in charge of parks
for the city, said the biggest challenge will be keeping BMX
out when it opens. Tire tracks on the concrete indicate some
sneaked in, Barbarotta said. Bikes are not allowed in the skate
because pedals can damage the concrete, he said.
Bill Helene, regional director of Skaters for Public
skated the park while it was under construction and took
photographs. Skaters commonly watch the construction and
do a few test
runs, Helene said.
It's part of the skateboarding subculture to hang
the crew and barbecue, he said.
"When a builder comes out to build a concrete skate
you show them as much hospitality as you can," he said.
a lot of beer and a lot of water and a lot of ice."
Helene said the park lived up to his expectations. There's
enough of an incline throughout to entertain skaters of all
"I think it's going to have the kind of broad appeal
will help it live a good, long life," he said.
City officials plan an opening for the second week of the
month without much fanfare, saying they expect the event
well-attended without drawing attention to it.
"It's just going to be so popular that we don't have
anything to get the kids there," Albano said.