Thursday, March 29, 2007

Vandalism at the James E. Wolfe Skate Park

The most significant act of vandalism at the James E. Wolfe Skate Park in the half year that it has been open was committed by a Tarentum Borough official who ordered that bolts should be cut to remove a piece of skate equipment from the park.

Original location of the picnic table at the James E. Wolfe Skate Park, photo taken 3-26-2007The skatepark was designed to include a picnic table upon which the skaters could use their boards. This was not an ordinary table, but was made from durable welded steel, and bolted into place so that it would remain in position when skaters used it. It was installed near the entrance to the park.

It is not there any more.

Table now located outside the skate parkNow the table is outside the skate park, suitable for use only ... as a picnic table.

No one consulted with the Tarentum Recreation Board before damaging the skate park and removing the equipment.

The purchase and installation of this table were funded by the Allegheny County Department of Economic Development through the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development's Community Development Block Grant Program and the Borough of Tarentum. I wonder whether equipment purchased through grants for a specific purpose can legally be appropriated by a municipality for a different use.

None of the skaters I spoke with understand why this was done.

File under : ,


Anonymous said...

The key word here is FederalMoney.

The recreation board does mot have any control over this skating facility. It is a FEDERAL facility.

Tarentum Borough which is where this facility was built can and does control it when it is being misused and flithy.

Harmon Boston is not the boss.

Letthe police andborough employees do what they are being paid to do by TARENTUM taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

The kids got their skate park. Now leave it alone.

Stewart said...

In response to the anonymous commenter at 8:01 and 8:06:

Thanks for your comments.

When arbitrary decisions prevent the kids from cleaning up and using the skatepark, it is not fair to say that "The kids got their skatepark."

When a single borough employee unilaterally removes a piece of equipment from the park, it would be more reasonable to say that their skatepark is being taken away from them.

Tarentum Borough decided decades ago to have a recreation board, which now has broad responsibilities under Pennsylvania Law, specifically "to supervise and maintain recreation places." (The Borough Code, Section 2708)

The Recreation Board has regular, public meetings. If someone thinks the park needs to be redesigned, the Board (not only individual members) should be consulted before a borough employee takes unilateral action, especially in the absence of any emergency.

It is sad that the first major act of vandalism in the park was committed by an adult non-skater.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, tables were meant to be a place to sit and eat NOT ride skateboards. Maybe that was what that table was for and the skaters were using it for other purposes. After all, weren't they destroying the park the same way. I say kudos to Tarentum Borough for removing the table.

Stewart said...

In response to the anonymous commenter of 4:52:

The skaters have emphatically not been destroying the skate park.

You are entitled to your opinion about what kind of skating equipment would be appropriate for Tarentum's skatepark. The design process resulted in a decision to have that table.

In the absence of any orderly process for deciding that skate equipment should be removed from the park, I submit that the decision to remove the table was neither an action of Tarentum Borough nor praiseworthy.

Wynne said...

Thanks for the best laugh I've had in a while.

When I read "It is a FEDERAL facility" I laughed out loud at what I thought was a clever bit of sarcasm.

Then I read it again and realized the poster was a completely serious fool.

And I laughed even harder.

Thanks again.

Stewart said...

Wynne, you might be right. But the tricky thing about people who post comments from complete anonymity is that the poster might not believe a single word of the post. He or she will never be called to account for the words used or the opinions expressed.

sonnysarver said...

Well here it goes again. Please ask the borough manager about the young adults that have told him that they where very glad the table was moved. Yes it was part of the park but trouble was coming and they acted quickly. Did it take care of the problem? It appears so. The biggest problem now seems to be the numerous bikes. These are not my words but the young adults I asked this evening. Not all but the group I talked with. And yes they also believe the table move was the correct thing to do. I was told the older kids would just sit at it and not let it be used for what it was supposed to used as. Everything takes time and many bugs must be worked out. I suggest getting all the facts before we spout off. Things will get better. Mistakes are made and will continue to be made. We are human. Also remember the skate park will have another test. The new homes for the elderly are almost complete and they will have a voice too. Work together and things will get better.

Stewart said...

Sonnysarver, I agree that we are all human and that mistakes were made and will continue to be made. What concerns me is that when it comes to making mistakes it seems that the decision-makers are more eager to err on the side of obstruction and destruction, than of construction.

Over a year ago when Council President Magnetta announced his turn-around on the issue of the skatepark, he announced grand plans for involving the skaters in designing the park. It was to be a skatepark designed by skaters for skaters, and his plan was implemented through a lengthy process before the final design was approved.

Almost as soon as the park was open, there was a hasty decision to permit both bikes and skateboards to be used in the park the skaters had designed. Trouble loomed immediately in the minds of those who pictured two extreme sports at the same time on the same equipment.

Almost two months ago Tarentum's Recreation Board approved a solution: a schedule with different times for bikes than for skateboards. A sign was to have been posted at the skatepark showing the schedule. No sign appeared.

When people finally started to figure out that there was the possibility of someone getting hurt, no one hastened to post the schedule. Instead there was a hurried decision to remove equipment from the skatepark. And there still is no movement to post the schedule that would keep the two activities at separate times in the park. In other words, there is a continuing pretext for removing skating equipment from the park piece by piece because the underlying problem has not been addressed as the Borough decided it should.

If a decision involves taking something away from the park's approved design, why does that happen as an individual official's decision under the pretext of urgency? And why is the solution approved by the board (of several people) that has the responsibility and authority still not implemented?

Anonymous said...

Hi Stewart,

TO all you anonymousessssss.....,

Do you think just once you could take off the stripe or feathers and come out and tell us who you really are?

Federal Facility, HA, HA, HA, double over...(couldn't agree more with you Wynne, needed the laugh). Sing Sing comes to mind.

The table is a SKATE TABLE. IT IS A PIECE OF EQUIPMENT THE KIDS WHO DESIGNED THE PARK WANTED IT FOR THE PARK!!!IT IS IN THE PARK... WHERE IS THE QUESTION??? There are many informative websites that show layouts and equipment used for skate parks.

Leaving things alone...good attitude.

They have these yellow books at the Boro office that contain all of the Boro codes and references to the Ordinance it refers to. It is actually Titled the Borough Code Book. Yours for the asking. Code 2708 will explain the actual funtions and duties of the Recreation Board as a whole. They even have the Ordinance book for you to refer to for the finite of that law or Ordinance. And just for kicks and giggles if you dare, ask the Boro Solicitor, he will be more than happy to explain our funtions and duties to you as defined by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. ( sorry Stewart, just had to slip that "L" in there).

Now, let's move on. I am a member of the Tarentum Recreation Board, 4 year term, appointed by our Council. My husband, Harmon, also a member, appointed by Council for a 4 year term is also the Chairman of the Board, voted in unanimously by the Board members. No, he is not the boss, but still the Chairman of a Board that he fought along with 8 other people to re-establish and be recognized by this Boro. Never once has he come across as the enforcer. Actually, he pretty well doesn't rock the boat unless it is something he truly believes in. The opinions of the Board members as well as each members strengths enable this Board to do the wonderful things it has done so far. We are still new at this. But enough defending my husband on that level.

The Skate Park Lock Out:

1 hour prior to the last Rec Board meeting, the Chairman walked to the Skate Park to address a problem the kids had been comming to him about. It was that other kids,not necessarily from our own area not cleaning up after themselves. There was a problem with the bikes, and the skate table was being used for a picnic table.

As we approached the park and the table inside, a group of kids were sitting on the table drinking sodas and smoking. We did ask them to remove themselves and their belongings to outside the park. There was a huge amount of opposition and some attitude thrown from the kids, until one of our local boys told them who we were. Harmon informed these kids, a group of about 25, that he was on his way to a meeting and if necessary the Board would have to decide whether or not to issue a lock out until the rules were followed. They were warned. At our meeting it was decided and agreed upon that in the event our Boro Manager saw the need to lock the gate until rules were followed and the park was kept up, that he do so. The decision was made by the entire Board. Not just one member. The whole Board. Unfortunately, Bill Rossey, Boro Manager had a rather unplesant experience at the park a few mornings later. As he himself was cleaning the park there arose an issue with a kid who was beligerent and disrespectful to him, even after he had explained who he was. At that time Bill saw no reason to close the park. On Monday morning, when he stopped by the park, in his opinion it was filthy and felt he needed to exercise and enforce the lock out. The Board stood behind the decision. Garbage pails, and a porta-potty have been provided at the skate park in an effort to keep it clean. There are 4 trash receticles. Now these kids will fill one and not see the need to walk over to the next one to dispose of the trash. So, the trash lays all over the ground near afilled trash can with an empty one a few feet away. The trash left inside the park is just disgusting. Not to mention that are also a few who feel walking to the porta-potty does not apply to them. Yes, right there by the ramp area. I Can fully understand the decision to lock the gate. As far as the kid hopping the fence to clean it up; he is not responsible for the actions of anyone else, nor was he given any authority to do as he did. He was also told that if he hopped the fence again, or anyone else thinking of doing the same, they would in fact be arrested. The park re-opened on Wednesday.

The Removal of the SKATE Table:

On Thursday, very early in the morning, we, my husband and myself were getting frantic phones calls and a few visitors claiming that all of the equipment was being removed from the Skate Park. An attempt to reach Bill Rossey was made. Bill was away on business and would not return until the following Monday. An attempt to reach the Council President was also unsuccessful. So, the Chairman walked to the Skate Park to see what was going on and when he arrived the table had already been removed and was outside the gate. No one around to answer questions. Went down later that day to find kids sitting on it, drinking, smoking, and new to the table a largely etched Swastika! Nice Work!!! But, we still didn't have any answers as to why the table was removed. It was said that Mr. Rossey ordered it removed because the kids were using it as a picnic table. This had not been confirmed yet. Only that the order to remove it was issued. I argued that if tables and benches had been brought to the outside of the park the kids would not use that skate table as a picnic table because they had no place to sit. Case in point, however, and hold on folks, there were actually requests to the Boro Manager to remove the table, by some of the older skaters who sited problems to him. In an effort to be a little pro-active, Bill as well as the Council President made the decision to remove a piece of equipment. Our Council President and the Boro Manager do in deed have every right to exercise their authority when a situation arrises. I will defend their authority, however, I do feel that the Chairman as well as the Board members needed to be informed about the decision. It is embarassing and frustrating when you are given the authority to do something and not have answers to questions about that facility or decisons reguarding it. I believe a clear line of communication in an effort to keep all informed is needed. Defending the action because I do think if the kids don't want it, then get rid of it. It will not violate any grant agreements. We are still in possession of that piece of equipment. Removing that piece of equipment seems to have somewhat lessened one problem. Benches and tables were brought to the park. Now there is no excuse.

The Bike Problem:

After a long battle, the problem is now being adddressed and a solution agreed upon. Stay tuned.


I will have to agree with you on the Riverview Park issue. Have you ever looked at the posted rules at the Tot Lot? They are basically the same. Bikes don't apply. There are many, many signs forbidding dogs and bicycles in the park. My issue; I think if we are going to enforce the rules at one facility I believe we are obligated to enforce the rules at all facilities in the manner the consequences deem as posted. I will be presenting this issue at the next meeting. As with the Rec Board, the Skate Park is new and the walking legs aren't quite stable yet. I think when we learn to walk, and of course stumble a few times, we will do more good than bad. The Skate Park bugs will eventually work themselves out, and that is if everyone using that facitity understand the consequence to dis-reguarding the rules.

Bill Rossey, he is exactly what he is. Tarentum. He lives it, he loves it and wants good things to happen here. Where's the bad? Let's give him some growing room also. I have already seen some great changes here in the Boro in the short time he has been Boro Manager.

I cannot speak for the entire Board, But for myself, I enjoy being a member of the Board. We do our fair share of arguing, there is resistance on some issues, but that is what we do. We present ideas. Each one of us has a great strength and together we do it well. And we learn together. We have tried some new things and pretty much been successful at them. We have new ideas and events for the Boro this season and hopfully the residents will enjoy a summer of fine entertainment. Look for us all year long. Bring your ideas, we can always use a few new ones. Talk to us about what you want, not what you have heard or think you know. Questions can be answered at the Boro office. Bill is always happy to speak to you. So are we.

Peace to you,

Anna Boston

Anonymous said...


Just wanted to interject something, actually the definition of duties... say

Boro Manager, direction by Council, however, other daily dities and decisions to apply as it should be. The Boro Manager makes daily decisions for the benefit of the residents in the Boro. His job and duty.

Rec Board.. to oversee the functions of any affixed recreational facility, Riverview Park, Tot Lot, Skate Park, etc; functions such as parades, teen functions, Bingos, entertainment, etc;.
Our duty, to make sure at all times each facility is kept up in running order, free of liability, and useable to all residents. To apply for grants for other rec facilities within the Boro, and to work with Council to ensure that all facilities are functional. We run on an approved budget issued to us by our Council and our residents to perform these duties and functions. We make suggestions and present ideas for recreation. No decision is ever final until Council approves or disapproves a proposal. We DO NOT RUN any facility. We OVERSEEE the care and operations of... I know you have posted this before but apparently it isn't sinking in.

I do this in behalf of your anonymous posters(blah, blah, blah), who constantly accuse before finding out all information. Some of them spew comments that they believe are "facts" without researching the information first. And really isn't that what some of them have themselves done? Accused others of providing inaccurate information, or taking a political/Boro issue to a personal level? And then hide behind the word ANONYMOUS? There is no 'personal-ity' in politics. I could be wrong. Nope. Really it only takes a phone call or a look at a book for any information needed. Maybe even a trip to a monthly meeting to actually see and hear the facts for yourself. Cannot say why this bothers me so much. Usually, I just blow off the aon comments anyway. No name, no nerve. I think if you are going to take a stand on an issue, any issue, you shouldn't be afraid to let the world know who you are and what your convictions are. You are aware of my feelings on Big Brother and the imposition of that system. Big Brother scares me, but I know he's there and pretty much know who he(they) are. If more folks paid attention to BB, many of these ridiculous laws imposed on us would not exsist. (Another issue all together). My point; anonymous posters scare me a little more. This doesn't apply to negative posting only. And I think the reason posters that do make positive comments are afraid to reveal themselves in an effort not to cause a "ripple effect" or show that they have their own opinion.

In closing, Stewart, your Blog has caused me some grief and some discomfort due to our friendship and an assumption that your Blog comments have anything to do with my position on the Board. Ludicrious and small-minded as it is, it has been implied. Not to worry, I know where I stand, I know where you stand, we agree on some issues and we have gone head to head on others. I do not see any problem with that. I encourage it... I appreciate that quality in our relationship. However, I am an active member of the Borad and I plan on hanging around for a while. Our intention is to do good things here.

Oh well, time to put on my helmet and some heavy duty padding because I know that brick wall I'm running into and the pelting of the rocks is really going to hurt. But I run into none the less and with good intentions.

All in all, you just gotta love this town.

Blog On!!!

Peace to you,


BTW, I realize my header says anonymous but once again I am having difficulty with my password.

Stewart said...

Anna, I am sorry to learn that you are experiencing grief and discomfort due to this blog.

To be very clear about the point I was making about the playground, I am not advocating that the playground should be closed whenever someone leaves it filthy. Cooler thinking prevails when it comes to addressing problems in the playground, the walking paths in Riverview Park, the rented docks, the ballfields, or any other part of Tarentum's recreation complex than the skate park.

The Recreation Board approved the lock for the skate park. But which is a more reasonable response to the problem of litter? To prevent the park users from cleaning up litter, or to permit them to do so?

Anonymous said...


I will agree about the cooler heads, but I also think a clear line of thinking and looking at all aspects and any consequences that may come up in the future should be first and foremost, emergency situations excluded.
I also believe the enforcement of posted consequences in all areas must be executed to provide balance. It's hard to teach a two year old consequence unless it is a repeated consequence. But, the parents of those two year olds are responsible for the actions of their children. We walk the park almost daily just to see what's up. On many occassions we have cleaned up the Tot Lot because it looked like crap, with parents sitting right there. A few weeks ago, I picked up and disposed of a left behind baby diaper with all the trimmings!!! Perhaps if the Boro were to send a letter with the utilty bill refreshing the memories of the parents of the consequences we might see a little effort there. The Police need to enforce the rule that says no children over 12? when they see these older kids climbing on the equipment, smoking and leaving their trash behind. NO DOGS!!! A lifetime battle I'm sure. I've been fighting it since I moved here. Never have put my feet in the grass at Riverview Park. Sad. Enforce it. NO BIKES!!! Enforce it. It's a small town, you are aware how word flies around here. It will only take a few citations and enforcement to make folks realize that the rules will be enforced.

When Bill made the decision to lock the gate, the responsibility of cleaning the park fell to our Streets Dept. It should not have. Although Streets does remove trash and keep up the exterior of the park, they shouldn't have to take time from their daily schedule to go clean up after a bunch of lazy kids. The kid who hopped the fence should not have done so. By Bill closing the park it showed that he would not stand for the trash nor would he allow a facility in his Boro look like that. I fully supported him on this issue. Maybe this will prompt the kids into keeping it clean. Peer pressure can be brutal sometimes. But again, maybe this will at least show the users of the park that the Boro will not hesitate to enforce the we just need to execute the consequences throughout the park area.

On the boat docks and the renters, at last Council, Bill Rossey and Council President Carl Magnetta announced that there were new provisions added to the renters leases. Trash cans have been removed from dock areas to prevent renters of disposing of their trash for us to clean up, and they plan on coming down equally as hard on those who insist on burning their trash at the docks. Other provisions were instituted to ensure a better kept up river area. Some trees along the bank that were a danger to all have been removed. I believe Bill will not back down on this issue and insure the dock areas are kept up.

I have various duties on the Board. But my biggest duty is to ensure a number of things, useable, safe recreation areas, clean park facilities, and the preservation of our green space along and within Tarentum. I have some faith that the skate park issue will eventually work itself out. I am ever hopefull that the park area rules will also be enforced.

As for the grief and discomfort, you know that isn't an issue with me. What would be the issue would be if by me stating my opinion and the facts it was taken to a personal level. I don't sit on this Board for the glory or the 'dog and pony' show we were all so used to seeing, I do it because I kinda like this little town. I see the beauty of what it was years ago and I see the potential it still has to be a nice little town.

Peace to you,

Stewart said...

The VND has a story about all these issues today. Tarentum skateboarders learn to keep it clean or else.