By Shelby Stewart
Brandon Twp.- The board of trustees voted 6-0 to approve the sale of the Ortonville Skate Park equipment for $5,000. Trustee Kris Kordella was absent with notice.
“The last department head meeting, we were told by the village manager that we [the village of Ortonville] can disassemble it and give you a bill, and I said no thanks, I’ll disassemble it and take it from there,” said Fred Waybrant, parks and recreation director. “August is the tentative date.”
The Skate Park opened in 2005 after Waybrant orchestrated fundraisers, donations and in-kind services for an estimated $125,000 in equipment and concrete foundation on land owned by the village at Cedar and Ball streets. The park was popular with kids for several years after it opened, but drew the wrath of neighbors frustrated by noise, vandalism, littering, profanity and alleged drug use at the facility.
Village officials responded by hiring a monitor, and incorporating a user registration fee and policy, which resolved most issues, but park usage fell and it was closed all of 2016 and part of 2015 due to a lack of registrations. It opened under a “session” plan formulated by Waybrant in which park users pay a registration fee of $20 to use the park on a monthly basis during designated times, but the park has been closed due to a enough registrations.
The decision comes after the equipment has been for sale since last July, and though there was interest, there were not offers.
“Agreed on $5,000, no paperwork has been done but it was a pretty good, firm handshake, and I’ve known the person personally for 25 plus years,” said Waybrant.
The equipment value was estimated at $80,000. The township will also not have to pay to move it, which is an estimated cost of $25,000. Some members of the board expressed interest in moving it to the Brandon Township Community Park.
“That’s a lot of money to let go for $5,000,” said trustee Dana DePalma. “I think once it’s in a park, people would go to it. I think the reason the village isn’t happy about it is because of the residents.”
Though it is not an official purchase, the township approved the price of $5,000, and Waybrant says that is the price he will accept.
The skate park created some issues for local law enforcement, and trustee Bob Marshall agrees that it would cause trouble even if it was moved.
“I personally think skate parks are a dirt magnet. Speaking as a police officer, we’ve had nothing but trouble at skate parks. It’s not the kind of clientele I would want to take my kids to,” said Marshall.
Local law enforcement is in agreement that it would be more difficult to monitor were the park to move within the township.
“That skate park has been a topic of discussion since I’ve been out here. How are you going to police it at that park, there’s no way. Our calls out there when it was active and there were enough kids for it was a daily event, not only for injuries, anything from disorderly conduct to neighbors complaining,” said Oakland County Sheriff Office Brandon substation commander Lt. Greg Glover. “That skate park has been an issue for quite some time. Skateboards are usually a fad, I haven’t seen kids skating around on a skateboard since I can’t remember when.”
Township and village officials have previously discussed possibly moving the skate park equipment, owned by the township, out to the community park located at 1414 N. Hadley Road. However, Waybrant said that is not being considered due to lack of supervision at the park. He also noted interest in the sport seems to be fading and said a skate park in Waterford also recently closed.