Niles officer says he’ll work to keep skate park safe, family friendly

Published 12:21 am Thursday, April 3, 2003

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Early on Wednesday morning, the new Niles Skate Park was already filled with skaters keen to try out their new playground.
Throughout the day, dozens and dozens of skaters came and went, while spectators lined the fences to watch skaters who used the skate park's rolling concrete surface to perform their tricks.
David Eliason took a brief break from skating and sat down on one of the bench tables just inside of the park's entrance.
He is thrilled the skate park opens at 7 a.m., because it means he can squeeze in a skate-session before having to be at school.
Eliason expects most of his spring and summer will be spent at the skate park.
Justin Landis, another skater who dropped by on opening day, was for a moment surrounded by friends in the middle of the skate park.
Teen-agers and children using the skate park will be left to themselves most of the time, but the person responsible for keeping the new playground a safe environment for everyone was also present on opening day.
Kevin Kosten, Niles Police Department community reclamation officer, has been assigned to be a presence in the riverfront area during spring and summer.
He said the police department wants to do what they can to keep the park as it was intended to be.
Besides skater safety, another motivation for the new park was to give skaters a place of their own, hopefully to take care of and enjoy in the best spirit.
He said there have been some problems with skaters damaging properties at different locations in Niles in the past.
He was quick to say that most skaters obey the rules. However, he doesn't want the few who don't to ruin things for the majority.
Kosten said the police will be enforcing just a few basic rules at the skate park.
He said those who fight or use profane language at the skate park will be taken care of according to police procedures.
Kosten said the police will encourage skaters and other users to wear protective gear, such as helmets, knee pads, elbow pads and wrist guards, but won't enforce their use.
He did encourage parents, however, to make sure their children are wearing proper safety equipment when using the skate park.
Also, should a skater be hurt in a spill, parents can be contacted more easily if the skater has the appropriate contact information available.
He said parents should encourage their children to carry contact details or mobile phones with them when skating at the park.