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Croton's Senior Club Petitions Village to Close Skate Park

February 3, 2006

A letter, accompanied by a signed petition from seventy-four members of the Croton Senior Citizen’s Club was sent to the Village Board of Trustees on January 20, 2006, urging closure the skate park located at Municipal Place (see: “SK8 Croton No More”). The seniors are in agreement with the idea of closing the skate park and selling the equipment to the Town of Cortlandt for placement near the Cortlandt Train Station (satellite map).

The club concludes that the “park will still be convenient to our community” and that since the park has been under utilized by community and school residents, future taxpayer expenditures should be used to “more fruitfully serve our recreation services” and “serve our youth better in higher numbers with these monies”.

This letter will be read to the public by Village Manager Rick Herbek on Monday, February 6, 2006 during the “Correspondence” section of the regularly scheduled Village Board meeting.

On February 4, 2006 7:01 PM, Chillin Bee said:

Funny, when my kids were little, and I took them to “Dobbs” park I recall the turmoil EVERY DAY when the skateboarders would basically take over this beautiful park and leave their mark.

Additionally, I can’t tell you the fear that was flowing amongst the parents of the toddlers cruising around the park from slides to swings. Back then I was on the fence about the purchase by the village but as time went on realized the value in the safety for both the little kids and the kids who were skateboarding all over town.

Now they have a place to hang their boards and the parents of little kids have some form of relief that their own child won’t be run over by a skateboarder.

As far as the “Fee” schedule, I never bought a season pass because I felt that the $75 fee was WAY too expensive so we pay as we go. We have used the skate park maybe 5 times in the past year.

There should NOT be an admission fee for village residents who pay village taxes. That is totally ridiculous.

Maybe instead of buying pretty wood signs to mark off the parks and other points of interest that have been vandalized periodically since they were installed, they can pay the part time employee who “oversees” the park.

I too feel that closing the skate park would be detrimental to the village kids.

The community center is enticing, but can’t we utilize the great space at the Town Hall building and spend a whole lot less doing some cosmetic upgrades rather than building a whole new community center, raising the ever increasing taxes in this tiny village…

I too hope the Mayor and his team can work out a viable solution.

On February 4, 2006 10:56 AM, waffels said:

I agree with dors and have also said it before…..the money has been spent and it would be a brutal misuse of public tax dollars to give this equipment away after only 3 seasons. Let’s try a new approach. The park does get utilized even with an attendant. It doesn’t need an atendant, the village is insured for it’s parks and it would still be utilized, probably more-so. It’s location is right off of one of the busiest intersections in the village. Police are constantly driving by as well as general traffic. Plenty of eyes to “keep an eye”. The park closes at dusk any kids hanging out will be asked to leave by the first police officer to pass by. Also to consider is the fact that local businesses and citizens donated their own money for bleachers to support the cause. Will they be reimbursed?…..the whole idea is very irresponsible. It’s a park, treat it like a park. 74 seniors do not a majority make. I don’t believe any of these 74 seniors utilize the park, and why should their word be given so much attention. There are 7500+ residents in the village-proper more in the school district. The village should try one season without an attendant and study the usage. I think they would be suprised.

On February 4, 2006 10:04 AM, dors said:

I’ve said this before but it needs repeating; our money has been spent and the sk8 park is in the village. Keep it open without an attendant. Kids need a place to chill out without adults hanging around watching their every move. Rob DiFransesco’s comment that “an attendant needs to be the first line of defense preventing foolish behavior” couldn’t be more paranoid and off mark. If that statement were true the village should have an attendant at every basketball court and playground. This sk8 park issue has become a political issue and not a recreation issue. Let the kids be kids and let them have their park. We’ve spent the money so keep it open.

On February 4, 2006 12:56 AM, Rob DiFrancesco said:

The $40.00-$50.00 figure that is contained in my entry came from a document produced by the Croton on Hudson recreation department. If there is another type of permit for the skate park I was unaware.

Let’s not compare apples to oranges, the skate park is not like other parks we have in this village. If there was no pass required to use the park than I suppose technically the village could go without the hourly attendant. However, given the litigious atmosphere that we live in, any village counsel in his/ her right mind would strongly advise against that. Kids will be kids, and an attendant needs to be the first line of defense, preventing foolish behavior from causing serious injury. Also, the attendants at the facility have all been certified in first aid and CPR which is just one more step towards ensuring a safe experience.

As for the community center, nothing is definite – that is why there is a community center committee; to explore the creation of this center, to see what residents want, and to hopefully figure out a way to pay for the construction, but I digress.

Like I said in my earlier entry, I am uncertain as to what should happen to this site. If you and other skaters in the community encourage more residents to use the facility I’m sure that it would certainly raise the eyebrows of our elected officials.

I hope that no government would ever look at its recreational activities as a back door tax on their residents. I don’t believe the debate is really about whether or not this facility is making or losing money. Rather, it’s about whether or not there is a significant interest in the park. If there are only 5-10 people using this park on a regular basis, I don’t believe that would qualify as a significant interest and, under those circumstances, I would go as far as to label the park a waste of space. Conversely, if the park had a steady attendance than I would be totally supportive of keeping it open.

  • Rob

On February 3, 2006 9:24 PM, Stu said:

A couple of points on Mr. DiFrancesco’s opinion:

  1. Why does the Mayor think giving the skate park equipment away for the price of removal is a good deal?

  2. Does the Village recreation philosophy really call for all recreation programs to pay for themselves? If it does, do we want to revisit this philospohy?

  3. Who is in charge here - the Recreation Advisory Board or the Village Board?

  4. Talk of a community center is ridiculous at this time. No matter what, with the proposed move to take the former waste transfer station site by eminent domain, the Village has forclosed any other community intiatives in the forseeable future due to millions of dollars to be incurred to accomplish the latter.

On February 3, 2006 8:38 PM, TeaDrinker said:

Croton GOP Chairperson Rob DiFrancesco’s comment contains several mistakes.

  1. The season pass is only available to Village residents, not school district residents and costs $75.00 per person per year, NOT the $40.00 to $50.00 amount Rob DiFrancesco suggests. I have bought a total of six passes during the last three seasons for a total cost of $450.00. For non-season pass holders, the daily admission is between $5.00 to $10.00.

  2. This past year, the skate park lost $7,000.00. Total payroll expenses for the on-site attendant was over $15,000. Like other parks in Croton, where there is recreational equipment, an attendant is not present. The Village should consider making the park open to all for free. Then, there will be no financial loss at all.

  3. A community center will cost several million dollars. The Schmidt team has yet to say how it would be financed or if the majority of residents even want it.

  4. The Cortlandt Train Station property is not fenced in. Further, the rink is for Roller Hockey only, NOT Ice Hockey. I hope that Mr. DiFrancesco, who is now “over” his “wild days” is not suggesting that skate park equipment could go in a Roller Hockey rink. Otherwise, there are NO other fenced-in areas anywhere up there. Only the State Police barracks and commuter parking.

  5. Contrary to the petition letter by the Croton Senior Club, in the last Village Board work session, Dr. Mayor Gregory Schmidt, who in the past, as a Trustee, voted for the skate park’s development and later privately funded seating for spectators, spoke of NOT selling the equipment, but DONATING it to the Town of Cortlandt.

I wonder if the seniors, who are obviously concerned about rising property and school taxes realize that the “stewards” of our operating budget are ready to write-off a $150,000 investment after only three years…

So, Mr. DiFrancesco, why not dust off that old board of yours and see what you’ve got left of it by heading over to Elliott Way for a little “old school”? It might put a smile on your face…

On February 3, 2006 6:59 PM, Rob DiFrancesco said:

Having been a skateboarder myself back in my “wild” middle school days I know first-hand the enjoyment that so many of Croton’s youth find in skateboarding. I also know that skating was a fad that came and went – for some it lasted longer than others but it eventually made its way to where it is today with a minority of youths in Croton still involved with the sport.

The reason why the skate park has seen deficient attendance is because of the general lack of interest. It has been suggested that the $40.00-$50.00 seasonal permit was a hindrance to attendance and I do concede that this could be a factor, however having grown up this community I know that a $40.00 fee is not out of Croton’s “price range.”

Closing the park is viewed by many as an action that is taken when any recreational program has lack luster participation. Take, for instance, the Rec. departments’ sponsored teen trips to the mall or an art class, etc. If these programs were to lose interest they would most likely be cut from the following season’s recreation program. The participants in these activities would not be pleased, but ultimately this makes way for new or improved programs that will better serve a majority of Croton’s residents.

In the case of the skate park, the Mayor has stated that the site would make a good location for a community center, which is something to be looked into by the community center committee. Further, the money saved by not having to pay an attendant (a necessity at any facility like a skate-park), and by not having to maintain the equipment could be put towards this center or into other recreational programs.

In the event of this park’s closure, those who are still motivated to skate could use the facility operated by the town. The town does have an attendant for their park and if the equipment is transferred to the location it would make the facility much better. The location is actually quite nice and safe. Everything is fenced in and there is also the town ice skating rink at this location. Supervisor Puglisi has really done a great job revitalizing this area… The cost to use this facility would also be cheaper, somewhere in the neighborhood of $25.00 for a seasonal pass, and the town also offers something called a “family pass” for $40.00 that would allow a family with two or more children to skate at an affordable rate.

I remain uncertain as to what course of action the village should take regarding the Croton skate park because I believe that children should be as active as possible. If the park keeps just a few more kids active and not glued to video games then I feel it’s a success.

  • Rob

On February 3, 2006 4:48 PM, weewill said:

Wasn’t one of the major reasons for building the skatepark in the first place was because of the hazards of kids skating on the roads and parking lots as well as particularly sidewalks and frightening seniors?

Checking out the location at the Cortlandt Train Station strikes me as the worst possible location for a skatepark where kids will be unattended. It abuts the railroad tracks with no barrier that I can see between the tracks and the kids.

Not good!



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