The city plans to make it a little more difficult for people who flaunt the rules at the skatepark in Bud Cross Park to slip in a little bike-riding.
And the obstacle is likely to come in the form of a 6-foot-tall fence, the city council agreed at a work session Monday afternoon. Signage isn’t working. Neither is peer pressure. Not even repeated warnings from Brookings police officers is deterring the two-wheelers.
“Now, they quickly get out of the bowl, they’re standing on the rim and they’re in compliance,” said Parks Supervisor Tony Baron. “With a fence, when an officer pulls up and there’s a bicycle in the park; it’s a no-brainer.”
The skatepark was built in 2002, and its use has been contentious ever since.
Skateboarders don’t like the damage bikes inflict on the smooth embankments, mostly caused by the pegs on bike forks from which bikers launch their tricks. Bikers want the opportunity to ride somewhere in the community without being harassed.
But the skatepark was built for the skateboarders.
“Bikes and skateboards don’t mix,” Baron said. “You get five to 10 bikes hovering around there at the same time, kids get knocked out. …”
In 2007, BMX bikers filled town hall to complain about their inability to practice their tricks anywhere in town, said Mayor Ron Hedenskog. They were then advised to outline a solution — location and cost among other details — and present it to the city for consideration. They never did, Hedenskog said.
Monday, the council also agreed the problem could be further remedied if police have the authority to shut the park down if users don’t comply with the law. There were no representatives from either the BMX or skateboarding groups at the meeting.
Brookings Police Chief Chris Wallace supports the council’s idea to build a fence around the perimeter of the park that is accessed through a gate that prevents bicycles from getting in.
“It gives them (officers) more control,” he said, adding that having the ability to lock the park could solve many problems experienced there.
“We’ll trespass someone for a certain amount of time,” he said of current operations. “But a fence would establish a line: ‘You cannot bring your bike past this line.’ Right now, there is no line. Right now, it’s pretty easy to see the police coming and get out of the bowl quickly. This (fence) makes it pretty clear.”
Wallace and Baron hope such regulations will cut down on littering and vandalism, as well, at Bud Cross Park.
“This park generates the most trash of all the city parks combined,” Baron said. “And there’s a can right there. Putting more cans at the park won’t do it. Litter is literally 10 feet from the can. It’s a disregard for the parks.”
More serious — and expensive — is vandalism at the park. A year ago, the city had to repair damage to two toilets and the skatepark drain after vandals poured mortar into them.
“It’s too many incidents,” Wallace said. “This will allow the city to notify folks that if there are any more problems, we will lock this down.”