Clinging to the metal fence outside the Riverhead Skate Park is a sign that reads: “Skate park closed indefinitely for repairs.”
The sign was posted in January, after the Town of Riverhead Recreation Department deemed it too dangerous for use. As the summer winds down, however, the sign remains and the park is still shuttered.
“One little false move by these guys they’re gonna fall and break their neck,” said department superintendent Ray Coyne.
Approximately 85 to 90 percent of the ramps, which have broken bottom boards, will undergo repairs within the next few weeks. Mr. Coyne said the work will cost between $35,000 and $40,000, which will come from the parks and recreation department and the town engineering department.
Repairs can begin once the expenditure is approved at the next Town Board meeting. Mr. Coyne said the work is expected to take about a week and he hopes to have the park reopened by mid-September.
He explained that at the end of each day, park employees are required to report on the conditions of the equipment. About three years ago, employees began to notice that some ramps were beginning to break.
“We were opening it for a while last year but we had a lot of issues,” Mr. Coyne said. “We roped it off and then it just got worse and worse and worse so then we finally said, that’s it.”
A frequent visitor to the skate park, 21-year-old Dmitry Trofimov of Wading River, said he doesn’t think the broken boards are much of a problem.
“It’s ridiculous,” he said of the park being closed all year. “There’s only a few things wrong.”
He added that kids don’t care that the park is closed, and hop the fence to continue skating throughout the year.
Mr. Coyne said the skate park has undergone repairs previously, at least three times since he’s been head of the department. Those repairs were covered under a 10-year warrant that has since expired.
Now, the department had to find the money itself in order to make the necessary fixes.
Mr. Coyne said that in the last eight months or so, he’s gotten calls from people asking when the park would reopen, but not as many as he’s gotten during past projects.
“Seventy-five percent of people are from out of town,” he said. “It’s a non-resident-driven park. That’s why there hasn’t been such a demand.”
In recent years, the skate park has seen an greater increase in scootering than in skateboarding at the park. Last October, park employees said they’d begun to notice an uptick in the use of scooters there about two years earlier.
Plans are also in place for upgrading other recreational facilities in town. Next month, for example, Stotzky Park will get a new playground and exercise station. Mr. Coyne said he hopes to renovate all of the 64 acres of town parks at some point.
“Every park is in need of some kind of repair,” he said.
Photo Caption: Ray Coyne, recreation department superintendent, shows off damage to one of the ramps at the skate park (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch).