The skate park at Stotzky Park in Riverhead had to be shut down early today due to vandalism there the past two nights.
“Someone kicked in the door to the booth inside the skate park the past two nights,” Riverhead Parks and Recreation Superintendent Ray Coyne said. “We decided to lock the gates until we could make sure the building is adequately secured.”
Coyne said the small building was used when the town staffed the park and collected user fees. But since it cost far more to staff the park than the town was collecting, officials decided to keep it open without staffing and without collecting fees.
“There is no money or any other valuables in there,” he said. But Coyne is concerned about vandalism to equipment. The building, about the size of a small shed, is equipped with a central station alarm that goes directly to the Riverhead Town Police station.
Two young children were using the ramps on the lower level of the skate park this evening. They had accessed the interior of the park through a large hole someone cut in the chain link fence. They were accompanied by two adult men who watched as the kids used the ramps — one on a bicycle the other on a kick scooter.
Coyne informed them the park was closed. He said he was not aware of the large hole in the fence until this evening and tomorrow would request a repair from the buildings and grounds department. A notice about the closure was posted on the recreation department’s Facebook page this afternoon.
The town closed the park “indefinitely” in 2015 because of its deteriorated condition. While it was closed, people were climbing the fence to gain access.
After about $50,000 in repairs, the park was reopened last year, but Coyne said the town needed to spend that amount again to finish repairing old ramps. He proposed instead to convert the lower level to pickleball courts, an idea town board members approved.
But that has changed, Coyne said. “I guess there was too much flak about it,” he said.
Now, the department plans to fence off part of the lower level for pickleball courts.
Coyne says the skate park is woefully underutilized and the people who make the most use of it come from other parts of the county.
“Less than 1 percent of the town’s population uses the skate park,” he said.