Niles skatepark to temporarily close due to fights, illegal activity, police say

NILES — Skaters, prepare for a wipeout.

Niles Police Chief Jim Millin announced on Thursday morning the city skatepark, located on Front Street, will be closed Friday for an undetermined amount of time. The skatepark includes features for those on skateboards and rollerblades to grind, ollie, drop-in bowls and ramp around.

Millin said incidents in the area, connected to individuals spending time at the skate park, led to the decision.

“There was a fight at the skate park on Sunday evening, and another small incident on Monday afternoon involving some of the same individuals from Sunday night,” Millin said. “There was another fight last night at the skate park.”

Just after 5 p.m. Wednesday evening, a Berrien County Sheriff’s Office patrol vehicle was seen driving the river walk in Riverfront Park.

“None of these fights were substantial, and from the information the police department has received has received, there were no injuries,” he said.

The police chief declared Riverfront Park as safe now as it has ever been, but the decision to close the skatepark comes to prevent further incidents.

The skatepark will locked on Friday afternoon, and a sign will be placed on the park advising patrons of its closure.

“Anyone found in the park while it is closed will be subject to prosecution for trespassing,” Millin said. “We regret that these measures have to be taken and recognize that it inconveniences those who are there to simply enjoy the skate park. That said, something must be done to mitigate the situation and hopefully entice others to help ‘police’ the park.”
If the trend of fights and illegal activities continue and the park becomes a nuisance, Millin said his staff would progress to discussions of closing it permanently.

“That would be unfortunate, and I don’t think anyone wants to see that, and that’s why these steps are being taken now,” he said. “For the rest of the summer, the police department has assigned additional patrols to the skate park, river parks, neighborhood parks and business district of the city.”

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