MARYSVILLE- Skateboarders here will soon be caught on camera, but not to showcase their talents.
The city plans to install video cameras at the skate park at 1050 Columbia Ave. as early as this spring or summer to deter vandalism.
Mill Creek and Arlington are considering using cameras for security at their skate parks as well, officials said.
For each of the cities, vandalism is the issue. In Marysville, it’s been an ongoing problem since the park was built in 2002 at a cost of $542,000.
Graffiti tops the list, along with other incidents such as knocked-over portable toilets and damaged fencing, parks director Jim Ballew said. No arrests have been made.
Last summer, the city closed the park for two weeks to repair damage, one of several times in recent years the park has been shut down.
The vandals “are not representative of the entire user group; it’s just a handful of people,” Ballew said.
“Usually it’s bikers and gangsters” doing the graffiti, said skater Michael Chamberlain, 13, of Marysville, a regular at the park. The vandalism occurs at night as “taggers” hop the metal-bar fence when no one’s around, skaters complain.
Many park users would like to see the park lit at night so they can skate late, which would also deter the crime, they said. Now, the park is open from 9 a.m. to dusk seven days a week.
Ballew said the city considered, and rejected, lighting the park at night primarily because it would shine into nearby homes and late skaters would generate noise for those neighbors.
The cameras are expected to cost about $6,500, Ballew said. They’ll be focused on the park 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Infrared technology will allow the cameras to record images in low light.
“I don’t really like it,” said skater Tito Jack, 16, of Tulalip. “I think we should be able to have some privacy.”
Some skaters like the graffiti. “I think it looks good,” Chamberlain said.
The city has worked hard to curb a recent rise in graffiti citywide. The city passed a law last month that allows it to order property owners to cover or remove graffiti within 48 hours.
Removing graffiti quickly is essential to discouraging the activity, city officials say. In many cases, it’s a form of communication between gang members, they say.
Graham Callan, co-owner of the Unknown Skate Shop and Art Gallery in Marysville, agreed. But he’d rather see lights than surveillance.
“I say focus on the gangs,” he said.
In the future, when funds become available, Marysville would like to connect the cameras to the Web so the park can be seen live on home computers, Ballew said. Woodinville in north King County has a webcam for its skate park.
In Mill Creek, officials are studying other options, such as lighting and fencing, as well as cameras, Police Chief Bob Crannell said. They plan to address the issue in the next few weeks, he said.
Arlington has had only occasional problems with graffiti, city spokeswoman Kristin Banfield said, and cameras are probably a year or two away.
In Marysville, at least one skater won’t mind the cameras.
David Noriz, 34, makes the trip about three times a week from his Granite Falls home to skate at the park.
“I think it’d be a good idea,” he said. “I personally would like to see (the vandals) get caught because one ruins it for 50 kids.”
Reporter Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439 or firstname.lastname@example.org.