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Future of skate park in jeopardy

Vandalism, disrespect for site are headaches for skateboard association



A few disrespectful riders could spell the end of the underground skatepark in Creekside, as Whistler-Blackcomb is concerned about continued vandalism of the underground parking area that was donated to the skate community.

Lenny Rubenovitch says it’s only a handful of skaters that are causing problems, but the newly created Whistler Skateboard Association is running out of opportunities to prove that the skate community can maintain and police the skatepark and parkade.

“We have been sent photos of garbage, of vandalism, of graffiti, of urination, and all kinds of things, and now the mountains will be making a decision that could result in their closing the skatepark,” said Rubenovitch, who will meet with Whistler-Blackcomb management this Friday.

“Right now we’re doing a lot of work to fix up the place, painting and things. We really have to prove ourselves in the next few days to show that we can maintain the park.”

Up to 10 volunteers are helping to paint and clean up the park area and parkade, each donating 10 to 15 hours over the last week to the project.

Whistler-Blackcomb donated the area of the Franz’s Trail parkade in Creekside in late 2005 after they learned that skaters were already using the facility. The arrangement went two ways — Whistler-Blackcomb would provide a place for skateboarders to build features and ride, out of the elements, and in exchange the skateboarders would police the parkade and prevent vandalism.

The entire park underwent a major enovation last winter where all the disintegrating wood topsheets on the park features were replaced with professional quality Skatelite that will last at least five years. The association spent $4,500 on the Skatelite, on top of close to $3,000 for other supplies, using cash from fundraising and a grant from the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation. They have up to $4,000 more to spend on street features in the area, but may not have the opportunity with the future of the park up in the air.

Volunteers have also contributed more than 300 hours to construction, and hundreds more hours cleaning the area over the last year.

Rubenovitch estimates that as many as 150 people use the park each day. This past summer was wetter than usual, and the park saw a lot more use than usual.

Members of the association do help to clean and maintain the park, but Rubenovitch says there aren’t enough people volunteering with the association to do a proper job. In the end he says the riders will either have to start showing respect for the facility, or everyone will lose out.