Mountain Express: Skate Advocate Blasts Hailey Decision to Shut Down Park

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The mayor of Hailey, facing reports of vandalism and bullying at his town's local skate park, decided to shut down temporarily the $500,000 facility. Calling incidents of trash being dumped into the skate park an "egregious transgression," Fritz Haemmerle closed the park April 13-14 and ordered a communitywide cleanup of the site for this Saturday.

But this morning's Idaho Mountain Express reports that the executive director of the Skate Park Association USA was troubled by Haemmerle's decision.

"This is never a good idea ... to encourage youth to take on a job that clearly belongs to police or park rangers," said Heidi Lemmon of the Venice, Calif.-based organization. "I can cite several instances where the troublemakers attacked the youth who were left to the chore and ended up hospitalized."

Lemmon told the Mountain Express that closing a skate park because of bad behavior of nonskaters can be viewed as "blaming the victim," or discrimination against skaters in general. Instead, Lemmon said Hailey officials were better advised to beef up patrols or install emergency call boxes.