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City Keeps Skaters/BMXers Out

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  • geneb
    *** 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
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 2, 2007
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      *** 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
      are 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. They also
      hired off-duty police officers and park police to patrol it.
       "Unfortunately the timing of this is that it's the first week
      school is out, the weather is beautiful, and our insurance
      policy doesn't start until next week," city Director of
      Operations Ben Barnes said.
      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 operable,"
      Docimo said.
      The city paid Grindline $309,850 to design and
      build the 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
      and Grindline workers testing the park while it was under
      The other option was to spend $8,000 to $10,000 on a
      temporary fence, which didn't seem worthwhile, because
      people could jump the fence, Barnes said.
      "These are determined, athletic and risk-taking individuals,"
      he said.
      Risk Manager Ann Marie Mones said the park cannot open
      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
      our interest and protect taxpayers," Mones said.
      The city's general liability insurance covers claims up to
      $25 million but has a $1 million deductible. Mones said
      she is 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 today.
      "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,"
      she said.
      The park was scheduled to be completed later this month,
      Mones said.
      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 Superintendent
      Laurie Albano said.
      "I think the management of it is going to evolve as we go,"
      Albano said.
      Mones said she had difficulty finding an insurance company
      to issue a policy for a skate park with a part-time attendant.
      "Many of them wouldn't even look at us because
      we didn't have a full-time attendant," she said.
      The park will be open from 8 a.m. until a half-hour
      before 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
      passers-by: "Site under construction; no trespassing."
      Joseph Barbarotta, the contractor in charge of parks maintenance
      for the city, said the biggest challenge will be keeping BMX bikers
      out when it opens. Tire tracks on the concrete indicate some already
      sneaked in, Barbarotta said. Bikes are not allowed in the skate park
      because pedals can damage the concrete, he said.
      Bill Helene, regional director of Skaters for Public Skateparks,
      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
      out with the crew and barbecue, he said.
      "When a builder comes out to build a concrete skate park,
      you show them as much hospitality as you can," he said.
      "We'd bring 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
      abilities, he said.
      "I think it's going to have the kind of broad appeal
      that 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
      will be well-attended without drawing attention to it.
      "It's just going to be so popular that we don't have
      to do anything to get the kids there," Albano said.
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