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April 6, 2013

Spinning their wheels

Skateparks closed in Windham, Plaistow

Spring has arrived, but two local skateparks remain closed.

Officials in Windham and Plaistow closed parks in their towns after behavior became a problem.

Windham closed its park in September. Plaistow locked up its nearly new facility in October 2011.

There doesn’t appear to be much hope on the near horizon for skateboarders in either community.

Windham selectmen last fall voted to give park volunteers and supporters time to come up with a monitoring plan to reopen the park.

But recreation coordinator Cheryl Haas said volunteers have not come forward.

”(Selectmen) had sent a directive to the group,” Haas said. “Nothing happened.”

She is scheduled to provide a skatepark update to selectmen during their meeting Monday at 7 p.m. in the Community Development offices, 3 North Lowell Road.

Windham officials had made clear last fall that something would have to come forward over the winter, so Haas, the Recreation Committee and the police department could review a proposal well in advance of spring.

”The onus is on you,” former Selectmen’s Chairman Bruce Breton told parents and skaters at the time.

Parents and skaters had some heavy hitters on their side in fighting to reopen the skatepark.

Reps. Charles McMahon and Mary Griffin, both R-Windham, had appealed to town officials to find options for keeping the park open.

Town officials closed the skatepark last year because of profanity, littering and skaters refusing to wear helmets.

The behavior problems led to police and recreation employees making repeated trips to the skatepark in Griffin Park.

Parents had suggested volunteer monitors might be the answer, though recreation officials were skeptical they would make a difference given the disrespect some skaters showed toward town officials.

Windham Recreation Committee Chairman Dennis Senibaldi said parents did not meet with the committee, despite repeated efforts by Haas to reach out to them and schedule a meeting.

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