A plan to build a skateboard park in Wellesley got a rough ride at township council this week, as Erb Park neighbours presented a petition opposing the idea.
The park proposal is still in the planning stages and will be presented to council by the Optimist Club once it is completed.
Residents living near the park expressed their concerns in a letter to council, discussed at Tuesday night’s recreation committee meeting. They are worried the park would cause excessive noise, be a risk for injuries and may lead to drug and alcohol use or to vandalism in the area.
Councillors noted any proposal for a park would include portable facilities, including a sound barrier, which could be stored in the winter or moved as required.
“If you go and ask any of the merchants, when we had the park last year in the arena, it took away from what was happening out in front of their places and I think if you talked to any one of them they would be in favour of it,” said Ward 3 Coun. Jim Olender, referring to residents concerns about increased loitering and petty crime. “When they’re talking about the kids congregating, there’s more congregations down there now, when there’s nothing there.”
A similar proposal in Elmira last week highlighted the safety skate parks provide for youth participating in alternative sports like skateboarding and BMX bicycling, getting them off streets and away from traffic.
Contrary to residents’ concerns, studies being performed in the United States, including one by the Tony Hawk Foundation, cite a decrease in petty crime statistics and juvenile delinquency once a skate park is built. Olender said youth serious about participating in the sport would not tolerate vandalism or crime in a park such as this.
“They police their own,” he said.
Costs and payment for the park have yet to be discussed, however councillors said the funding would come from local service groups such as the Optimists and the Lions Club. The skate park proposal is still being researched and will be presented to council at a later date.