By Tony Parra:PNT Staff Writer
Portales residents have spoken and they want the Portales Skate Park at Rotary Park to be closed because it’s a safety hazard.
The Portales Recreational Board recommended the closure of the skate park after receiving results of nearly 500 surveys. Many of those surveys, Portales City Manager Debi Lee said, indicated that the skate park wasn’t safe.
“When I got here, one of the loudest complaints was about the parks,” Lee said. “We (did surveys) to find out (what) the community needs.”
The City of Portales representatives sent out 2,870 survey forms. Of those, 478 (16.6 percent) were completed and returned.
“The skate park is an issue,” Lee said. “It is considered unsafe and a hazard to the public. They want to take the skate park out.”
Lee said the recommendation of closure will be in the form of a resolution for the July 5 city meeting. The resolution is part of a strategic plan for the city’s parks and recreation, also a subject of the upcoming meeting. Lee said in her experience, strategic plans hold weight when requesting grant funds.
If the city councilors approve the resolution, Lee said the goal is to close the skate park sometime during the summer.
Lee said the area was unsafe because much of the park’s equipment is outdated, and park users have compensated by bringing their own equipment (ramps, etc.), which sometimes would create a higher level of risk.
Also, Lee said that the surveys indicated the skate park was not compatible with youth baseball games at Rotary Park.
Ron Jackson, Portales Parks and Recreation Board chairman, said teens have gone to other places, such as Eastern New Mexico University, to skate even when there is a skate park.
“We were concerned about (where skaters would go without a park),” Jackson said. “But our primary concern was for the safety of the skaters.”
Not having a place to skate is a concern for many teenagers who remember the days before the park was built at Rotary Park.
“We’d go skate at the college,” said Arnold Rodriguez, 15. “They’d tell us to leave and we would tell them to tell the city to build a park.”
Rodriguez and fellow skaters, 13-year-old Seth Carvey and 16-year-old Johnny Martinez of Portales, are not looking forward to the possible closure of the park.
“I wish they would have something in place before they close the skate park,” Carvey said. “I think the skate park is safe. The problem is little kids come out and don’t know what they’re doing.”
Carvey said parents need to help young children learn how to skate before letting them using the skate park.
Both Lee and Jackson said they would like to have users of the skate park help in the planning process of an alternate site for a skate park. Jackson said alternate sites being discussed are east of the Portales Recreation Center, the north area of the Portales Recreation Center parking lot and La Buena Vida Park located on East Ivy Street and East Railroad Street (behind the Garvey Processing plant).
If the public indicates that a skate park is still needed, Lee said the Recreation Center would be a primary option because the property has open areas for skating and the area could be supervised at minimal cost to the city.
Lee said the next step is to determine an alternate site for the skate park and think of ways to raise money for new equipment. Lee said she welcomes suggestions from those who use the skate park on alternate sites and funraising.