NIAGARA FALLS – It just took a week for vandals to shatter the rosy picture of a brand-new skate park in Niagara Falls.
It was designed as a place for kids to go to stay out of trouble.
Just one day after opening the nearly $500,000 skate park, Community Development Director Seth Piccirillo took to Twitter to praise the kids using the park who were coming to the park with brooms and cleaning up the park.
— Seth Piccirillo (@SethPicc) October 7, 2016
But on Thursday, Niagara Falls police were called to the park in the 3200 block of Pine Avenue after a city parks foreman found the back wall of the skate park had been damaged by graffiti. It was believed that black spray paint was used to cause the damage, according to the reporting officer. The officer said three different graffiti markings were found.
The damage was estimated at $500, according to the police report. The suspects are unknown.
City Administrator Nicholas Melson told the Niagara Falls City Council on Monday that the city remediated the damage using matching paint which they have obtained from the contractor.
"We made the decision to not tolerate any sort of vandalism in any form," said Melson of the quick fix.
"It's too bad because most of the kids are doing a good job and they are treating it well," said Council Chairman Andrew Touma. "It just takes one person. It probably wasn't even a skater or someone who rides a bike. The skaters I spoke to were upset about it - personally."
Councilman Charles Walker said he had some concerns beyond vandalism, noting that children are in the park biking and skating without helmets trying to copy the complicated tricks the adults were doing. He said he'd like to see a rule in place where children under a certain age would have to wear a helmet.
Melson said they strongly encourage children to wear helmets. He said the community outreach department of the Niagara Falls Police Department is planning an event at the skate park to try and get the word out about how to use the park appropriately, respectfully and responsibly.
"We certainly would be willing to look at a helmet requirement," added Melson.
Piccirillo said after the meeting that they do not have lights at the park because they don't want to encourage kids to use the skate park at night.
Melson told the council that the skate park will be a police camera location.
Resident Ron Anderluh of Buffalo Avenue suggested the city consider an expansion of the police ranger program or even bring back the police auxiliary which could be used patrol the parks. He said he has long been a supporter of the skate park.
"We need to have something in these parks because we are starting to invest a lot of money into these parks and we need to see them protected. I'm sure 99 percent of the kids take care of it. It's only that one percent that cause the problems," said Anderluh.