Nick Bryant-Melvin skates at Gilbert’s Freestone Skate Park almost daily. The 13-year-old and his friend, Julian Avila, 15, said they rarely see any fights or problems at the Gilbert park popular with skateboarders and inline skaters.
“Sometimes, there’s a lot of kids underage smoking here,” Nick said. “And too many bikes that come in.”
But while police incidents at the park are still rare, a few serious ones — including an Oct. 2 stabbing — have caused the town’s Parks and Recreation Board to consider whether to change policy to create a safer or more regulated environment.
“It worries me that anybody would get stabbed here,” said Julian, a Gilbert resident.
“It’s just a peaceful place in one of the nicest towns in Arizona.”
Ideas raised by members of the board include charging a fee to use the park in order to pay for a full-time ranger, or even adjusting the gate to prevent bicycles from being slipped in and causing a hazard.
Town Manager George Pettit said there is no guarantee any change will be made.
He said town offi cials would consider what effect the changes might have on the majority of skaters — who don’t cause problems.
The issue arose during a November meeting, when parks director Kenny Martin presented a report about the skate park, including police incidents.
While the number of incidents has not risen, Martin said a few serious ones have alarmed the board.
Incidents at the park include a reported assault on Oct. 13, a weapons violation on Sept. 9, an attempted assault on Aug. 14 and citations for alcohol consumption on July 5.
Police have also responded to at least three vandalism complaints.
“There has been some aggressive behavior by some,” Martin said. “Bullying, foul language. Those things that are not that unusual in a skate park environment.”
Rangers check in on the park, Martin said, but there aren’t enough offi cers to watch it full time.
The board also expressed concern that the trend has leaned toward adults using the park, with the most common visitors being males between the ages of 13 and 22.
Use of the park peaks during summer months and during the winter break from school.
Jacob Null, 13, of Gilbert, said he’d like to see a safer atmosphere for some of the smaller children. But he said most of the skateboarders are just there to have fun.
“It’s a nice park,” he said. “Just way too crowded.”
What: Gilbert Parks and Recreation Board will discuss safety at Freestone Skate Park.
When: 6 p.m. Thursday.
Where: Freestone Recreation Center, 1141 E. Guadalupe Road.