May 17, 2012WAKEFIELD — On April 5 and 10 Attorney Donald F. Whittum of Rochester wrote two letters to the Wakefield Board of Selectmen making separate complaints about the lack of supervision at the town's skateboard park and at the town beach in Sanbornville.
In the April 5 letter Whittum representing client Dan Davis "and other residents of the Town who have concerns regarding the Town Beach property" listed eight specific complaints about activities at the beach. "All of the concerns arise from the fact that there is no exercise of supervision of the use, time of use, or conduct of activities occurring on the beach."
Specifically, the complaints are that: 1) people are using the dam for swimming and diving despite a 1981 state directive not to do so; 2) there is drinking and partying at the beach day and night "accompanied by loud music, constant swearing, shouting and screaming;" 3) the beach and surrounding area is littered with cans, bottles and "paper articles;" 4) the bathhouse is locked; 5) picnic tables are being dragged into the water and used as rafts; 6) people are swimming outside the buoys, which are damaged due to being left in the water all winter; 7) Mr. Davis and guests cannot sit outside in summer due to noise, swearing and partying; and 8) there is no traffic control in the area and people are parking in the road, blocking access to the site.
In the April 10 letter Whittum representing John Citron and Fred Meyer as well as Davis complained about activities at the skateboard park as well as the limited access to the park, which he states has led to people parking on his clients' properties and walking through their lots. "There is no porta potty or other toilet facilities, as a result of which is people are going into the woods to relieve themselves. The abutting woods and my client's properties have become receptacles for trash of various kinds, including broken bottles, plastic jugs, paper and cardboard, and other debris."
The letter also complained that the park was becoming a meeting place for drug users and was not maintained. "It is ill placed and ill maintained," Whittum concluded, asking the town to relocate it to a more accessible place with available parking.
The town responds
On May 9, Wakefield selectmen met with Wakefield Parks and Recreation Director Wayne Robinson to discuss the issues and come up with a response to the complaints.
Robinson granted that some of the points made about the skateboard park are valid, but the point about cars being parked on private property is not. He provided a letter from Police Chief Ken Fifield on that subject.
Robinson reported that the Parks and Recreation Committee discussed four options for the skateboard park. The first was to move it to the ball fields, but there were safety concerns and activity there may be harder to supervise.
A second option, favored by Selectman Peter Kasprzyk, was to move it to the Forest Hills tennis courts. Drawbacks are that there is work to be done on the courts and they are still being used for tennis by a few residents. Selectman Chair Ken Paul asked if the courts are any use to Parks and Rec beyond the few users. Robinson said that the courts have had no attention for 20 years and need at least $9,000 in work. Paul said he was wondering if the town should sell the courts.
A third option was to move to Turntable Park. The stage would have to be moved and it would cost $5,400 to provide a paved surface. Kasprzyk said he was opposed to that option.
A fourth and final option is to leave the skateboard park where it is, add chain link fencing on two sides for $3,500, place a portable toilet on site and put up signs. Beyond that some maintenance is needed and police should be asked to keep an eye on the park. If there is abuse, thepark would be closed down for two weeks.
Kasprzyk wondered whether the car dealer should put up a fence at the back of his lot.
Selectman Charlie Edwards said there have been few complaints, if any, from that sector.
Robinson said Mr. Meyer has complained to him about the trash on his property. "We took care of it," he said. "There were no beer cans but we took away four bags of trash."
Edwards favored the fourth option, saying "Leave it alone – let Wayne take care of it."
As for the problems at the Town Beach, Robinson said he was planning to change the sign at the beach to show longer hours, so other wording could be added. Otherwise he recommended providing chained trash cans, unlocking the bathhouse during the day, extending the fence at a cost of $900, chaining the picnic tables down, stenciling "No Trespassing" on the dam and rearranging the buoys to keep people away from the dam.
Robinson pointed out that the Town Beach is right across the street from the police station, so police should be able to keep an eye out for unacceptable behavior.
Kasprzyk agreed chaining the trash cans will cut down on litter and complaints and advocated putting a surveillance camera. Edwards advocated chaining the portable toilets at the skateboard park as well.
The board accepted Robinson's recommendations. Town Administrator Teresa Williams said she would draft a letter of response to Whittum for review by selectmen.