The Huntington Beach City School District is looking into ways to stop skateboarders from damaging Ethel R. Dwyer Middle School.
Trying to stop skateboarders from going on campus has been an issue for years, trustee Brian Rechsteiner said.
The school, with its long concrete benches, maze of handrails scratched from grinding and outdoor amphitheater with the first row of seats darkened with board wax, provides a haven for skateboarders.
The school on Palm Avenue has suffered ongoing damage from students and non-students alike. The district also worries about liability if a trespassing skateboarder gets injured on campus, and trustees discussed possible solutions at their Feb. 16 meeting.
“I’m not against skateboarding ... but I certainly wish that they would respect property,” Rechsteiner said.
The board discussed building a fence around the school’s amphitheater, adding additional “no skateboarding” signs and getting administrators and staff authorization to ticket offenders. Staff will look into the issues and costs of the ideas and report back to the board.
“You can just see that over the years, the damage gets worse and worse,” Rechsteiner said.
Part of the problem is a lack of nearby places to skate. After Huntington Beach High School’s skate area closed, residents were left with the areas at Murdy and Oak View Center parks. The city has approved areas at Worthy and Edison parks, but there are no funds for the projects right now, said Community Services Director Jim Engle.
The city is still moving ahead with the facility at Worthy Park, which will be 10,000 square feet and replace the abandoned Pay and Play racquetball building, Engle said. The city is still preparing a master plan for Worthy and plans to seek community input on the design, Engle said. Once a design is created, Engle believes, the city will be able to find a sponsor and grants for the skate park.
“We think there will be a lot of community support financially,” he said.
Dwyer Principal Don Ruisinger said he has made accommodations over the years with skateboarders after his crackdown on the sport when he first took the position led to increased graffiti. Fining offenders would be the best solution, he said, but calls to the police have gone ignored.
“I think that’s the only way,” he said. “If you want to stop it, you’d have to get the police to ticket.”
The board discussed options to deal with the issue, but in the current economic climate, any solution that costs money might not be realistic, President Shirley Carey said.
“I’m concerned about safety, and I’m concerned about liability, but it’s not a priority for me to spend a bunch of money on fences to keep them out,” she said.