Las Vegas Sun

September 1, 2014

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Skateboarding area moving to new park

A popular skateboarding area in northwest Las Vegas deemed a nuisance by neighbors is moving this summer to another park, following a decision by the Las Vegas City Council on Wednesday.

The relocation from Patriot Park to Mountain Ridge Park signals a renewed effort by the City Council and Councilman Michael Mack, whose ward encompasses both parks, to address the bad behavior of a small number of teenagers at some of the city's skateboard parks.

In January 2003, the City Council reviewed a report by the Skate Park Safety Coalition, a committee composed of representatives from the city, Metro Police, Clark County, local skating shops and the Clark County School District, and voted not to close down any of the city's skate parks.

The report had detailed fighting and vandalism at the various skate parks, but the City Council decided the benefit of keeping the parks open outweighed the negative effects caused by a handful of troublemakers.

Currently, at least 18 skate parks are available to the public in Las Vegas.

Soon, however, that number will shrink by one when the quarter-pipes, ramps and rails at Patriot Park, 4050 Thom Blvd., are picked up from the concrete and hauled northwest to Mountain Ridge Park, which already boasts a 14,400 square-foot cement skate boarding pit.

"I had reservations when they put (the skate park) there," said Shirley Jones, as she watched three of her grandchildren play on the jungle gym a few hundred feet from the skate boarding area of Patriot Park.

Jones said she often heard noises coming from the park at night, but she also said that she had never witnessed any instances of violence in the skateboarding area of the park.

Jones said she learned about troubles at the park only after she received a card in the mail from Mack asking her to attend a community meeting about the disturbances.

On a recent visit to the park with his son, Tony Sager, who also lives nearby, said he, too, had never witnessed anything illegal occurring at the park.

"Maybe some foul language every once in a while," Sager said.

Mack, however, said the skate park's current location tucked between clusters of houses and across the street from Parson Elementary School was a source of concern for other residents in his ward.

"The demand for skateboarding parks has been great," Mack said. "Unfortunately, we built this one too close to an elementary school."

But some of the skateboarders who use the park are students from the elementary school, according to Jorge Velazquez, a 9-year-old who is in the third grade at Parson.

Still, Doris Boka, the president of the homeowner's association for Rancho San Miguel, a neighborhood adjacent to the skate park, said, "Most people are going to want to see it go."

Lt. Jeff Dufrene, a city marshal and a member of the Skate Park Safety Coalition, said some residents in neighborhoods surrounding Patriot Park complained of property damage. Some residents also said teens headed to the skate park opened doors to backyard gates and let pets escape.

"We had several incidences in the park of minor fights and graffiti," Dufrene said. "But most of the real problems were occurring outside the park in the neighborhoods."

Residents also complained that many of the teens who were skateboarding at the park were from North Las Vegas, Dufrene said.

In an attempt to curb the bad behavior, the city considered installing video cameras, Mack said. But the group later dismissed the idea.

"By installing video cameras, about the best you get is a good witness," said Dufrene. "They're not the end-all-be-all."

At Mountain Ridge Park next to Highway 95 two teenage boys riding bikes inside the cement pit said they would welcome the new equipment. They also said they would welcome the additional visitors the displaced ramps likely would entice.

Standing at the ledge of the pit where moments later he would perform tricks on his bicycle, 14-year-old Ben Rigg, whose hair rises in a cherry red mohawk, said he had never witnessed nor heard of any fights at the Mountain Ridge skate park.

"Most of the people that come here are mature,' Rigg, a student at Cheyenne High School, said."

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