Neighbors are left to supervise parkPublished 9:15am Tuesday, November 12, 2013
I live above the skate park, and I signed my neighbor’s petition asking the city to relocate the park from the current location. A new location was not specified, and in a letter that I sent to the City Council, I suggested a nonresidential area — like other cities. Only residents in a one block area around the skate park were asked to sign. After years of problems and no resolution, we wanted to open an official dialogue with the City of Albert Lea.
The skate park has changed considerably in the last five summers that I have lived in my home. Now there is skateboarding, scooter and bicycle jumping, along with Rollerblading that starts at daybreak and continues past sundown — sometimes the middle of the night unlike a playground or a softball field. This is a residential area and the residents have a reasonable expectation of an acceptable noise level.
Law enforcement provided cards with specific instructions on securing a police response using the business number, email, cellphones, etc. Sometimes that communication is simply leaving a message to have an officer come at closing time and clear out the park — which I did many times this summer. I could call law enforcement multiple times a day for what goes on down there but stopped — it does not seem to change anything. All along this has been the problem.
The Parks and Recreation Department thinks that the police supervise the park. The police do not have the staff to do this. The parents are not here, so the neighbors are supervising. No one is listening to us, and the kids certainly are not. I believe the majority of these kids are good kids, but there is a lot of peer pressure that takes over when they get together. It was suggested that the park be locked to teach them a lesson — it was for a few days this summer after equipment was damaged. The only thing learned was climb over the fence and the younger ones created a hole in the fence to slide their bikes and scooters under. The city has shut off the lights, put up signs, locked the gates at night (discontinued due to police staff shortage), tried to patrol more, police have talked to the kids, and still the problems continue.
There are many problems, but my main concern is the noise and the profanity. Sound waves rise and the lake has an acoustic effect. I have measured the decibels inside my home, on my patio, and it is too high. Unlike many of my neighbors, I refuse to spend the summer with my windows closed. With windows open, I think you should be able to hear your TV, hear your phone conversations and sleep. You should be able to hear the person talking next to you on the patio. Putting a sound barrier on the fence is not the solution.
We have two venues here — the beach and the skate park. I personally would like to see the beach amenities improved. More trees, shade structures, picnic tables, maybe a concession stand for service organizations to rent for fundraising. Hopefully the families that have been driven away by the activities and language at the skate park would come back to enjoy the beach with their kids.