One California city’s attempt to keep kids from gathering in a skatepark by dumping sand into it backfired when dirt bike riders showed up to take advantage of the new dirt park.
San Clemente city officials had closed the skatepark to try and make sure skateboarders obeyed state and local social-distancing restrictions, but quickly noticed that the “no trespassing” signs were being ignored, KUSI News reported.
“On April 1, we kind of let it play out to see if users would abide by the closure,” Samantha Wylie, the city’s recreation manager for the Beaches, Parks and Recreation Department, told the San Clemente Times.
“During that [two-week period], we saw people continue to skate the park, groups would gather, kids with their parents; it became a regular [occurrence]. It appeared the closure was not abided by.”
To try and enforce social-distancing measures at the park, the city decided on April 13 to dump 37 tons of sand into the park.
“The sand was what other agencies were doing,” Wylie said.
“We’re doing what other parks have done to enforce that message of social distancing,” she added.
The city had chosen sand because, unlike fencing and security, it was not expensive and the city is confident it won’t damage the park.
“The sand, it cost us nothing to put in, [and] it’ll cost us nothing to remove it,” Wylie said.
The city’s actions have drawn criticism from the community, especially from the San Clemente Skatepark Coalition, which has raised money in the past to support the park.
“There’s a lot of people within our community who have put a lot of time and money, personal money … to the skatepark,” coalition president Stephanie Aguilar told the San Clemente Times.
“That visual representation of the city dumping sand into the skatepark, it almost feels like, when you look at it, the city vandalized its own park, and I think it pains people to see it.”
Local skateboarders were also not pleased by the city’s actions.
“We’ve been coming here for 15 years and now the city officials have taken the one thing we love to do, away,” Steve Haring told KUSI.
“This is our home and this is where we exercise. We’re able to social distance while also seeing our friends.”
Although the sand has kept some skateboarders away, dirt bikers have made the park their own.
“It’s a big joke,” dirt biker Connor Ericsson said.
He shared a video on social media of his dirt bike group taking advantage of the sand:
Ericsson said as soon as a skateboarder showed up, the bikers helped him dig out the skatepark so he could do some “social shredding” of his own.
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