Skateboarders blamed for damage to new memorial

Published 7:33 am Thursday, November 11, 2004

By By SPIROS GALLOS / Niles Daily Star
NILES - It's been four days since the dedication ceremony for the newly-constructed Niles Veterans Memorial in Riverfront Park, and already the monument is seeing tough times.
Members of the Veterans Memorial Committee are asking residents who visit or walk near the memorial to keep an eye out for any skateboarders seen riding their boards on or around the memorial.
Committee member Ron Stull saw some skateboarders ride by the memorial while visiting it around 5 p.m. Tuesday.
The skateboarders, who Stull described as looking to be in their teens, rode along the Main Street bridge and skated down the sidewalk leading to the memorial.
The skateboarders appeared intent on riding through the memorial but veered away when they saw Stull and a friend standing in the memorial, Stull said.
This isn't the first time skateboarders have been seen riding near the memorial. On several occasions before the dedication, committee members have had to chase away skateboarders looking to ride through the memorial.
Stull himself had seen the youth in question ride through the memorial before, causing damage to the bricks surrounding the memorial, he said.
Veterans Memorial Committee co-chair Mike Ellis was at the memorial Wednesday morning to investigate the damage to the bricks.
In all, there were 13 bricks which had been damaged since they were first installed about a month ago.
Ellis said the committee would replace the recently damaged bricks when they replace others which had errors when they were delivered.
In an effort to put an end to the damage of the memorial, the committee notified the Niles City Police Department of the problem.
Ellis also enlisted the help of people at the Eagle's Lodge, 34 Sycamore St., who will keep a watch out for any skateboarders.
There is also a surveillance camera which watches the Veterans Memorial 24-hours-a-day.
If caught, the skateboarders, or their parents, will have to pay $25 for each brick which has to be replaced due to the damage.
Niles City Police officers have been advised to issue citations to any skateboarders seen riding near the Veterans Memorial, Capt. Jim Merriman said.
Under a current ordinance, skateboarding is prohibited anywhere downtown except in the Niles Skatepark on Front Street.
Lt. Fulton Moore said he thinks only a small group of skateboarders are responsible for the damage to the memorial.
In the past, officers have been ordered to confiscate the skateboards of those who break the law.
Fulton said he'll continue to do so if he catches anyone skateboarding near the memorial.
Ellis has considered erecting a gate around the memorial to deter the skateboarders from riding over the bricks, but he also wants to keep the memorial handicapped-accessible.