Park still wheeling in concerns

 - Brad Camp/Staff Photo
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff Photo

KINGSTON — In the six years since the Kingston Skate Park opened it has been a bit of a sour subject for some neighbors, and the center of the world for many children, teenagers and adults. Now, because of a few disrespectful people, Kitsap County officials are thinking of taking out the last remaining convenience — the park’s only trash can.

After considering putting Romtec style restrooms at the park, county officials examined the site and decided against locating the facilities there. They will instead construct them at Arness Park on South Kingston Road, said Kitsap County senior maintenance supervisor Dori Leckner.

“We’re seeing everything we’ve ever seen there,” she said of vandalism at the skate park. “There’s nothing else left there, we’ve had to take it all out. There’s graffiti in the bowl, and we’ve stopped painting over it unless it’s obscene, it takes too much time. There’s only a trash can left, and that’s pretty beat up.”

Mandy Matan, co-owner of Evans Board Shop in Kingston, said it’s just a few troublemakers who are making it worse for the teenagers who try keep the park clean because they use it. The skaters who ride there have worked to make it their own, she said, and try to keep it tidy.

“I think taking out the garbage can will make it worse because people who do throw their trash away won’t have any place to put it,” she said. “The garbage can now is really out of the way, they have to walk pretty far to get to it. If they had two trash cans there, maybe it would be better. It truly is a few bad apples who mess it up for everyone else.”

Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office public information officer Scott Wilson used to work in the Kingston area, and patrolled the park often. He could find no reports of having to shoo visitors out of the site after dusk in 2006 and this year. The park is out in the open, on the well used Lindvog Road, and watched over by residents. A total of 44 calls took place there between Jan. 1, 2006 and April 24, 2007, and about 22 were responding to teens not adhering to park rules, Wilson said. Only a handful of reports were written up from those 44 calls.

“We’re just around the corner up there,” he said. “It’s not hard to get there if we hear something’s going on.”

But it seems the vandalism problems at the North End park are not unique to Kingston. The Silverdale Rotary Gateway Park, which also has a skateboard area, deals with its own set of issues.

Poulsbo Parks and Recreation, on the other hand, has experienced few problems with its skate park since it was built in 1999. The ramps are located at Raab Park, and it’s a bit more enclosed, a caretaker resides nearby on the property and the city park’s fence is locked at dusk, said PPR director Mary McCluskey.

“I’ve not heard about any major problems recently,” she said. “Ours is not like Kingston’s, there are no bikes allowed because it’s made out of wood, not concrete like Kingston. I’ve never seen tagging up at the skate park... I think the kids take care of it.”

As far as graffiti is concerned, Matan said she thinks the kids are just making the space their own, and as long as there’s nothing offensive or obscene, it should remain as a way for teenagers to have a voice in their community.

“There’s been a few pieces that weren’t very good,” she said. “There’s one down there now that’s really nice, though. It’s not like the rest of the town is graffitied, except for the occasional tagging here and there. They’re trying to make a mural, make a piece of artwork. They’re not doing it anywhere else except the skate park, and they’re trying to make it their own.”

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