OXFORD – The Oxford Hills Skate Park Committee decided Wednesday on a strategy to deal with problems from people who use the facility on Charles Street in Paris as a hangout.

Skaters and parents will hang up ‘No Loitering’ signs this weekend, repost the ‘No smoking’ signs that were torn down, and post a phone number for police at the park as well. Also, skaters will alert school officials of any troublemakers by either reporting their names or showing their pictures taken on cell phones.

More trash and recycling cans will also be set up.

The $100,000 state-of-the art facility on SAD 17 property opened in June, and problems of vandalism, littering, trespassing and swearing began about the time schools opened several weeks ago. Paris police said if the problems continued, they might close the park.

“Summer was great,” police Chief David Verrier said at the meeting at SAD 17 offices in the Oxford Plaza on Main Street. “There was none of the smoking, none of the vulgarity, none of the vandalism.”

But students who didn’t skateboard, or who lived far away, started showing up at the park when it opened at 2 p.m.

“Quite a lot of kids who have gotten into trouble are hanging around,” Verrier said.

Later, he added, “I’m looking at everyone in the room, and we haven’t had problems with any of you.”

About 20 people, mostly skaters, attended the meeting, along with parents, SAD 17 Superintendent Mark Eastman, skate park project manager John Parsons of Norway, and committee member Jeanie Stone of Paris, who helped organize the teens in developing the park.

“Every time I go there, there are people smoking. Ugh,” said Bentley Hamilton, who with Greg Hutchinson envisioned the park, and then they both began a massive fundraising effort five years ago to build it.

“I’ve seen kids walk into the park, smoke and then leave,” Shane Churchill, 30, of Paris, said. “It’s pretty crazy.”

He added later, “There are more bad kids than good kids.”

Eastman said part of the contract of the skate park was for the users to police it.

And Verrier, also a member of the committee, reinforced this. He said if any of the skaters see a problem, they should call the Paris Police Department or the Oxford County Regional Communications Center to get an officer to the site before a situation escalates.

“If you call and trespass notices are issued to citizens, they’ll stop coming,” Verrier said.

Stone said, “These are growing pains, folks, right? Growing pains.”

“We were pleased with the number that showed up and the mix of students and adults” at Wednesday’s meeting, Parsons said Wednesday night.

The committee of students and adults also includes Hutchinson, parent Deedee Estes of Paris, Norway Recreation Director Deb Partridge and others.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.