Skate park shut down again after vandals strike

By FAITH HUFFMAN, News-Telegram News Editor

Oct. 22, 2008 - For the second time in a year, the Sulphur Springs skate park at Buford Park has been closed down due to acts of vandalism.

And like the first time, the park will stay closed until the damage is repaired and the graffiti removed, according to City Manager Marc Maxwell.

Maxwell said this morning that graphic depictions were painted on the walkways and concrete, and 10 sprinkler heads were either damaged or emoved from the area.

"They were graphic, pretty vulgar," Maxwell said of the graffiti. "The park is closed immediately. If anyone is caught at the park, police will confiscate their skateboards and take whatever action is appropriate."

The skate park Park will not reopen until all graffiti is removed and the sprinkler heads are put back in working order, the city manager said.

"If they do that, then it'll reopen again. If not, it will definitely stay closed," Maxwell said. "This has been building up, but really blew up this past weekend."

Total dollar amount of the property damage has not been determined, but the sprinkler heads alone cost $35 each to replace.

Almost three years ago to the day, Sulphur Springs City Council members voted to spend $100,000 toward the construction of a skate park on the site of the old tennis courts in Buford Park.

Parents of the skateboarders who appealed to the council for the park said that youths were forced to go to cities in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to find skate parks, and a similar park in Sulphur Springs would take skateboarders off streets, sidewalks and parking lots.

Work began in August 2006, and the park was finished but not officially open on Halloween night in 2007 when vandals struck the first time.

City workers arrived at the facility the next day to find the skate park had been "redecorated" with smashed pumpkins, broken eggs and graffiti.

Maxwell immediately put the skate facility off limits to anyone except those willing to clean up the mess.

"We expect them to show up with paint thinner and scrub brushes and clean it up," he said at the time.

And they did. Groups of skateboarders showed up that afternoon, cleaning almost all the graffiti off by nightfall Thursday.

"I am extremely pleased and proud of the response," Maxwell said the next day.

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