Eagle-Vail fine-tunes skatepark | VailDaily.com

Eagle-Vail fine-tunes skatepark

Matt Zalaznick

Eagle-Vail officials, however, say they want the spot to remain peaceful for both its youthful users and surrounding neighbors.

“We’ve had no problems,” says Walter Allen, a member of the Eagle-Vail Metropolitan District board of directors. “But we’re trying to be proactive and be good neighbors. It’s a wonderful facility, and hopefully we can keep doing good things for kids in the neighborhood. But we don’t want to impinge on the rights of the neighbors.”

The skatepark, west of the Eagle-Vail Pavilion, opened a few weeks ago. The Metro District approved funds for it after a group of parents said they’d feel more comfortable having younger skaters in the neighborhood than leaving them at the nearest skatepark, which is on the top level of the Lionshead Parking Structure in Vail.

“We’re trying to look at what possible problems we could run into,” Allen says. “We’re trying to be really sensitive to neighbors so the park doesn’t become an annoyance. We don’t want it to become a late-night hangout.”

The skatepark is closed at night, and after-hours trespassing and vandalism are two potential problems the Metro District wants to prevent – before they surface.

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Eagle County sheriff’s Deputy Bill Kaufman, who has inspected the park, says he has found both positives and negatives about its location about 10 feet below street level.

“It knocks down the visual pollution and the hillside blocks noise. Those are the good things,” Kaufman says. “But because of the layout, there’s also the potential for kids to go in there and hangout.”

Deputies driving past might have a hard time seeing kids who’ve sneaked into the park at night.

“Noise travels better at night,” Kaufman says. “We want to do something to keep people from trespassing at night, as well as do something about if and when graffiti shows up.”

One suggestion is lighting that doesn’t glare enough to bother neighbors but emits a pale light that Kaufman says isn’t “real warm to be around.” The ramps could also be covered with a special graffiti- and sticker-resistant paint.

“They’ve already done some upgrades, like sealing off nooks and crannies to make it hard for trespassers to go in and hide,” Kaufman says. “And there’s a material they can put on that if graffiti goes on – it washes right off. It cuts down on people putting graffiti up. It wears them out.”

Diane Johnson, supervisor of the Youth Services Department for the Vail Recreation District, manages the Lionshead skatepark. The park is also only open during daylight, but she says trespassing hasn’t been a problem.

“I don’t think there’s people up there at night poaching the park,” Johnson says. “But I guess I’d rather have them in the skatepark than doing something else.”

Police pass by and tell skaters in the Lionshead park after dark to leave, she says.

While graffiti has appeared on the park’s ramps, Johnson says Lionshead has a bigger problem than the two Kaufman warned Eagle-Vail about.

“I wish people would put their trash in the trash can,” Johnson said.

J. Halburnt, a member of the Eagle-Vail Metro District Board of Directors, says the neighborhood may be jumping the gun planning for problems that haven’t arisen.

“I think you’ve got to give the kids the benefit of the doubt before you start planning for graffiti,” Halburnt says. “It’s my hope that we don’t have any problems. We really haven’t had problems in the past. But if we do, we’ll talk about it down the road.”

Matt Zalaznick covers public safety, Eagle County Courts and Avon/ Beaver Creek. He can be reached at (970) 949-0555 ext. 606 or via e-mail at mzalaznick@vaildaily.com.

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