When the Windham skatepark was vandalized last week, parents and community members were outraged. The town council said that whoever did this should be ashamed. And a few people said, “I told you so.”
Having teenagers police themselves and be responsible for their own messes is almost a laughable concept.
Teenagers do not have fully developed brains. They make foolish decisions based on peer pressure and what seems “cool” at the time. Teenagers are policed at school, that is why there is a school resource officer on school grounds all the time. Teens that aren’t supervised find something to do and it’s not always constructive.
No one knows who trashed the skatepark, though I believe there are some clues. However the problem still exists that there were break-ins and damage done.
How can we, the community, fix this problem at the skatepark?
Do we continue to keep it unsupervised and let the park be torn to pieces? Do we move it to a less public location like the Donnabeth Lippman Park? Or do we devise a plan-to-pay system for someone to be at the present park when it is open, giving teens that little supervision they need to make good decisions and to keep “out of town” elements who only want to cause trouble away?
We at The Windham Eagle have heard suggestions of a “pay to play” situation, where teens who want to use the park pay a flat fee to use the facilities for the year - $25 or $3 per visit. It would never equal the $20,000 salary that was cut by the town council, but it would be a start to have someone there during open hours.
Cameras could be installed at the park to monitor who is there, but the problem becomes who monitors it and what keeps those from being vandalized?
Another idea would be to create a board, much like the Windham Community Garden next door to the skatepark. Parents and community members would get together and set up a volunteer schedule with park rules that would be enforced with help from the Windham Police Department. All this would need would be an involved parent to step forward to save the park.
Without a solution, whether it be one of these suggestions, a combination of both or another idea, one thing is for sure…without action the skatepark will be dismantled and cease to exist.