Gypsum skate park threatened by vandals |

Gypsum skate park threatened by vandals

Kelly Hagenah
Kathy Heicher/Enterprise

GYPSUM – Picture this scenario:It is a beautiful summer day in Gypsum. The sun is shining, the wind is tickling your shoulders, and the warm temperature has the kids restless. It’s a perfect day to take the kids to the skate park to burn off some energy. But when you get there, the gates are locked. The reasons are in plain sight.Graffiti covers the cement bowl that once was filled with happy kids on skateboards. Shattered glass and cigarette butts cover the ground where you used to sit with a cooler full of cold drinks. And a police siren screams as you look over the gates.

A hypothetical situation, yes. Impossible? No. This is the problem that has Gypsum town officials and community members alike worried. While the Town Council has promised in recent weeks that the skate park is not going to close any time soon, they have also made it clear that if things don’t eventually change, they will have no other choice.Since the opening of the skate park several years ago, there have been on and off bouts of vandalism and trouble. “There is always a group who has to spoil it for the ones who want it,” Town Council woman Pam Schultz said. Even this past Memorial Day weekend saw some vandalism, with offensive graffiti painted across the bowl.

Town Manager Jeff Shroll discussed the problems this week while a mom and several middle school boys played at the skate park, politely ignoring the inappropriate message. “It’s really embarrassing for kids to be playing out there with that filth on it,” Shroll said. “It is a horrible and poor reflection on the community.”At a recent Gypsum Town Council meeting, skateboarder Josh Bortz asked for help. “He is concerned they are going to take it away,” said Josh’s father, Bill Bortz.

Rumors had been flying that the town was on the verge of shutting the park down, but both Schultz and Shroll say that is not what they want. “We want to do everything we can do to keep it open,” said Schultz, “We put a lot of tax money into building that park for the kids.”Around $250,000 tax dollars, to be exact.The town officials and local police have an inkling of who is causing the trouble and vandalism, but charges have yet to be filed. “It’s staggering to me,” said Shroll, “It’s their parents who helped pay for this park – they are the taxpayers.”While the Town Council and local police are working on extra protection and enforcement at the skate park, they are asking for the community’s help, especially from the kids who use it.

“I am hoping that the key users of the skate park can help us keep an eye on it,” Shroll said. “If everyone helped us police it, it’d be great.”Vail, Colorado

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