Skate parks' condition under scrutiny

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By Jennifer Garcia

The county’s snow removal policy seems to be a sore subject with some Los Alamos County residents. In the past, Public Works Director Kyle Zimmerman has addressed residents’ concerns regarding the policy, however, his answers have not always been satisfactory to the people concerned.


To add to the questions that residents have, another county facility recently came under scrutiny because of snow that had not been removed.


White Rock resident Norma Oona recently submitted photos and a letter of concern to the Los Alamos Monitor, claiming that the condition of both skate parks in Los Alamos and White Rock had been neglected and were covered in snow.


Additionally, she charged that the ramps at the White Rock skate part are beginning to warp, crumble and have a few bolts sticking up.


“Having snow on them has only made it worse,” Oona said in her letter.


Community Services Director Stephani Johnson, Parks and Recreation Director Dick McIntyre and Parks Supervisor Jeff Humpton all voiced concern over Oona’s letter. Johnson said snow removal at the skate park is not a priority for the Parks and Recreation Department because of all the other snow removal around the county that has to be done.


“We left shovels and brooms for snow removal at the Los Alamos skate park,” Johnson said. She also stated that the kids who use the park voiced concern over pine needles that were scattered about, as well.


In an effort to help solve the problem, brooms were left for the kids to use in sweeping the park clear of pine needles. The shovels were left so that kids could clear snow from the park, if they wished to skate.


However, Oona claims that she never saw any brooms or shovels at the White Rock park when she was there with her grandson on Jan. 18.


In addition, on the same day she visited the White Rock park, she said she also visited the Los Alamos park, which was also in bad shape.


“It appalls me that they (the county) spent half a million dollars on a skate park, but you couldn’t use it,” Oona said. “It was a large capital expense. We would assume that if the children wanted a skate park so desperately, that they would also help to maintain it. Are there not any teenagers in town who could have shoveled the snow?”


Humpton says that since the Los Alamos skate park was built, there has been a sharp decrease in the number of kids using the White Rock park. McIntyre said that he went to the White Rock park to check the damage that Oona was concerned about.


“I looked at the ramp and it was frayed. I’ll need to order a replacement board for it,” McIntyre said. Humpton said that there are some extra panels in storage that were ordered as replacement panels, so placing an order may not be necessary.


Upon further inspection of the panel, McIntyre said that he did not see any bolts sticking up. “There is a piece of the panel missing,” Oona said, “so there is a bolt sticking up that is exposed.”


Oona is also concerned with who will foot the bill for making repairs to the skate parks that may result from neglect.


“The taxpayers did not neglect them. I assume the children, parks and recreation and the county council will want us to pay for the repairs and replacements. We would strongly suggest that the county council use the fountain money to fix the skate parks,” Oona continued.


McIntyre said that facilities such as the skate park, basketball courts and tennis courts are not on the county’s snow removal list at all.


“We don’t have the man power to do it,” he said. “To meet the current snow removal demands we have guys working 12-hour days. If the kids want to skate, they can shovel,” he continued. “It’s tough to get to this type of thing,” Johnson said. “The kids did shovel most of the Los Alamos park.”