North Tonawanda Shuts Down Makeshift Skatepark

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By: Brendan McDonough

Reporter for North Tonawanda

Kids across North Tonawanda are up in arms after an old tennis court – which was transformed into a skateboard park – has seemingly closed for good.

The park was located at the end of Miller Street and was a place where kids not only skated, but formed friendships.

“It’s been the site of many memories,” said Dustin Finley, North Tonawanda Resident. “We have had cookouts there and celebrated birthdays there. It’s not like we are there to cause damage or do anyone any harm. We are there to make friends and skate.”

From talking to city officials, the Niagara Reporter estimates that more than forty kids have been using the park.

 

 

It is a well-known place among the skateboarding community bringing in kids from as far away as Lockport and Rochester into North Tonawanda.

Since 2016, kids from across North Tonawanda, Lockport, and beyond had been utilizing the skate park without incident.

“The tennis court has been in disrepair for a long time,” said Kevin Lorenz, Skateboarder. “Since we set up shop here there has been no tennis nets, no pipes to hold nets up and no one has used it for tennis courts. We just want a place where we can learn our craft and for the last two years that’s what we were able to do.”

Without notice, the City put the brakes on future utilization of the tennis courts by posting “no skateboarding” signs and putting locks all around the site.

City officials say they did it out of safety concerns.

“There are a couple issues with it,” said Luke Brown, City Attorney. “One, it is not designed as a skate park. It is a tennis court and with the ramps on it no one can use it for its intended purpose. The second issue is that you can put as many signs up as you want, but people are still going to sue the City if they get hurt.”

 

 

In the City’s defense, they did consider putting up “Skate at Your Own Risk” signs, but Luke Brown told the Niagara Reporter that not only would it not prevent the City from possible legal action, but it did not make the area any safer for skateboarders.

“In the past few months we had a new department head for the Parks and Recreation Department,” said Austin Tylec, Alderman-At-Large, “and he had concerns about safety given that it was city property. I was kind of like, let the kids skate, but at the same time we do not want to get sued.”

It’s not only kids who want to skate. It’s neighbors too.

Becky Miller has lived across the street from the park and says they have never caused any problems for anyone in the area.

“The kids have always been respectful,” said Miller. “They pick up after their mess and most importantly do not make a ton of noise. I can’t remember a time when they were not out by 9pm. It is a shame they locked it up.”

There is another skate park in North Tonawanda located at the Rainbow Roller Rink, but kids say it’s not designed for the kind of skateboarding that they like to do. Ultimately leaving many of the skateboarders that once loved to come to Miller Street with no place to go.

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