Dayton Council reopens skate park at urging of young skaters

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DAYTON — After five young skaters came to the lectern and spoke in favor of Dayton’s skate park Monday night, the City Council passed a motion to reopen the park and move toward establishing an ordinance to make park rules enforceable by law. The young speakers ranged in age from 8 to 15 years old.

The skate park, which is in the Dayton City Park, was closed by the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office early this month because of multiple rules violations, including vandalism, spilling garbage cans and verbal abuse of other users and neighboring homeowners. Some users were bringing bicycles into the skate park, which is also a rules violation,

While sheriff’s deputies have responded to numerous complaints about problems at the skate park, the Sheriff’s Office has told the city there is little they can do to stop them, since park rules don’t have the force of law.

City Clerk Trina Cole told Council members she will prepare an ordinance for the next meeting that will incorporate the park rules and allow deputies to arrest violators.

During Monday’s meeting, two neighboring homeowners also spoke up to say they would support reopening the skate park, as long as rules are enforced.

The kids who spoke said the problems were being caused by a small number of young men, mostly 18 and over, who are abusive to the younger kids and to neighbors. They all emphasized to the Council that the skate park is a great asset for them as a place to hang out with their friends, and that most users respect the rules.

During the meeting, the kids were encouraged by Council members to work as a group to keep the park clean. Cole said she would make sure the kids had a broom and trash bags available.

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