WINDHAM – There will be no supervision at the town’s skate park, starting July 1.

The Town Council decided Tuesday to cut $17,000 to fund staffing at the popular park for the next fiscal year.

The park will stay open, as long as people who use it don’t cause problems. But some said that’s not possible.

“What’s going to end up happening is the skate park is going to close,” said one resident, Carol Waig.

Wendy Loring, the mother of two teenage boys who use the skate park, said she has seen what goes on at unattended parks in other towns.

“There will be drugs,” she said.

The elimination of the funding was among several amendments the council made before approving a $14.3 million budget for 2013-14. The municipal budget would have no effect on Windham’s tax rate.

About 20 kids and teenagers, and some of their parents, packed into the council chambers to show their support for the skate park, which opened in 2000 next to the Windham Public Safety Building on Gray Road.

Right now, it is staffed seven days a week. It closes at 6 p.m. on school nights and at 9 p.m. on weekends. Its hours are longer during the summer.

Town Manager Tony Plante said there were about 3,000 visits to the park last year.

Tim DuBois, 19, said he turned to skating when he got cut from the soccer team that he played on with his friends.

Skill level doesn’t matter at the skate park, he said. “You don’t have to be good enough to hang out with your friends.”

Bonnie Hicks said her 17-year-old son has been going there for the past decade.

“It is an extremely safe, respectful place,” she told the council. Having someone there to supervise has ensured that, she said.

Tom Hill, 18, said he thinks of Windham as “the most community-filled town.” Closing the skate park, he said, is contrary to that spirit.

Some councilors said they didn’t want to close the park, but felt the kids there could police themselves.

“I have more faith in the young people,” said Councilor Peter Anania.

Chairman Matt Noel said his son is a skateboarder and he’s seen how that community takes care of itself.

“I hope the kids don’t ruin it for themselves,” said Councilor Scott Hayman. “I hope they act responsible.”

 

Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at:

lbridgers@mainetoday.com