Skaters trade in their boards for brushes

Tony Parra

A good number of adults and teens say teens don’t have anything to do in Portales. Some fear some of the activities they do pursue — skateboarding, roller-blading and bicycling — may be stripped from them because of the deterioration of the equipment at Rotary Park.
“We’ve had some ramps and equipment removed and it hasn’t been replaced,” Jimmie Shiner, who started the Portales Skate Park Organization, said. “We’ve even made and brought some wooden ramps, but those wear easily because of the weather and use. So after a while people from the city remove them.”
City Park and Recreation Manager Mack Tucker said the department is inundated with other tasks besides repairing the ramps.
“We have to do work on all of the ball parks, swimming pool, cemetery and building maintenance,” Tucker said. “We put them (ramps) as a high priority but we are backed up with other things we have to take care of. We will repair the equipment.”
Tucker said part of the problem is money.
“It can be expensive to buy new (ramps),” Tucker said. “There’s not a budget specifically for the ramps. The budget is for all of the parks.”
Tucker said city workers removed some of the equipment because of the liability factor and he’s received calls from parents concerned about the equipment.
“They’re taking stuff out of the park after it gets deteriorated because it’s unsafe, but they never put it back,” James Reed, whose grandson is a skateboarder, said. “There’s got to be some way through grants to get the money. It’s not a big expenditure. You can get a lot done with a couple thousand dollars.”
Shiner and the organization have started to collect donations and will set up a bank account for money to repair the equipment. Shiner also wrote a letter to Mayor Orlando Ortega addressing his concerns. The letter can be viewed on Groups Yahoo Portales Skate Park Web site.
On Tuesday, park and recreation officials provided paint and brushes to Shiner and about 10 teens who painted the Rotary Park pavilion.
Shiner said support can be tough to get because of the negative view on skateboarders.
“People around town think it’s the skateboarders damaging the equipment,” Shiner said. “It just isn’t true. That happens because other kids do stupid stuff. Vandalism happens on other parks, also.”
Donations can be made by contacting Shiner at 760-8149. Shiner is also interested in placing jars in businesses for people who want to donate money.