Drug case closes skate park | ParkRecord.com

Drug case closes skate park

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

Authorities closed the City Park skateboard park for part of last weekend after the police arrested a person on a drug charge at the popular facility, Park City officials said, an unusual response by City Hall as it tries to combat drugs.

According to the Park City Police Department, officers were at the skateboard park at 4:31 p.m. on Saturday investigating a drug-paraphernalia case. Rick Ryan, a Police Department lieutenant, said the department’s bicycle patrol, which frequently is assigned to City Park, noticed a group of men in the park.

The officers approached an 18-year-old skateboarder after the police saw he seemed to be hiding items. The police found a lighter and a pipe that the police said appeared to be used for smoking marijuana.

Tyler Webb, who is 18 years old and from Park City, was cited on a charge of possession of drug paraphernalia, a class C misdemeanor. He was released. If he is convicted of that charge, he could be sentenced to jail for 90 days and fined $750. Prosecutors had not filed formal charges by Tuesday morning. Webb was skating with a group, Ryan said.

Ryan said, afterward, there was a question between a police dispatcher and a Parks Department staffer about whether the skateboard park should be shut down. The parks staffer told the police to close the park, according to Ryan.

He said the Parks Department sometimes orders the park be closed after graffiti is found inside. That allows crews to clean.

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Clint Dayley, the city’s parks and golf superintendent, said when his staffers arrived the police had put up caution tape closing the park. Dayley’s crew then locked the gate of the park.

The park reopened Sunday morning, Dayley said, but the police were unsure at what time.

"This is the first time for any drug activity," Dayley said about the closure.

Ken Fisher, who manages recreation services for the city, said crews have closed the park about five times to remove graffiti since the facility opened, in 2001. Each time, the park was closed for three days, he said. Graffiti, though, has not forced a closure in 2006, he said.

"We remove the graffiti within 24 hours. It’s really up to us to get the users to buy into the park," Fisher said, adding that people at the park would notify the city of the graffiti. "If they saw someone doing graffiti, they’d report it."

Fisher said officials were worried when the park opened that people might use or deal drugs there but that has not been the case.

"That was a concern when we built the park but it’s been a non-issue," he said.

The skateboard park is popular among Park City’s young people and it regularly draws large crowds. Earlier in the fall, the city opened an 8,000-square-foot expansion of the park, adding a street course to the 20,000 square feet that were part of the original park.

Ryan, the lieutenant, said the police rarely encounter drugs at the skateboard park.

"We do watch for that to keep that out of there," Ryan said. "We don’t have a great infestation of drugs being used or distributed down there."

The Police Department and the Summit County Sheriff’s Office see themselves as aggressive at combating drugs but the case at the skateboard park appears a random arrest, not connected to an ongoing investigation.

The Police Department in 2005 arrested 77 adults and 53 juveniles on drug charges, according department statistics. The police often are sent to City Park for patrols, in cars, on bicycles and walking.