New Arlington skate park shut down because of graffiti

07/28/2014 11:46 AM

07/28/2014 11:22 PM

The city’s new $1 million skate park will be closed at least two weeks while crews clean up extensive damage left by spray-paint-wielding vandals Sunday night.

The 21,000-square-foot public skate park opened in Vandergriff Park, 2800 S. Center St., in April.

On Monday morning, city parks and recreation staffers discovered that many areas of the concrete park had been defaced with colorful graffiti. The messages scrawled in black, red and blue spray paint included “Don’t do drugs,” “Love more” and “Believers Never Die” as well as drawings of a flying saucer and a pepperoni pizza slice.

“These kids need to understand that when they do that, they’ve effectively decided that not only themselves but also their friends will not be allowed to skate out here for a while because of their stupidity,” Parks and Recreation Director Lemuel Randolph said.

Damage estimates have not been determined but are expected to exceed $1,000, depending on which chemical treatments are needed to remove the paint, Randolph said.

Police and park security will work to keep skaters out of the park until the graffiti is gone. Temporary fencing is expected to be installed this week.

“We don’t want to send a mixed message that you can damage a city asset and then that asset is still available for the public to use,” Randolph said. “We want it to be clear that because of this damage, the facility is closed.”

Arlington voters approved $500,000 for the skate park in the 2008 bond election. The rest of the project was funded by the city’s natural gas lease revenue.

“It’s frustrating that the actions of an individual would negatively affect the summer enjoyment for so many,” District 3 Councilman Robert Rivera said. “We as a community are better than this, and I’m hopeful that our youth will rally around the park as their own and ensure whoever did this is brought to justice.”

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