Skateboarders want a place of their own


Mike Dickinson gets ready to jump his friend’s skateboards at the Farmers’ Market in Petrolia. The teens were surprised when a resident complained they were rude and should be told to leave the area. They say the town needs a new skateboard park.

Shale Salisbury couldn’t believe what he was hearing.

The teen is one of about a dozen who regularly congregates behind the Petrolia Library at the Farmers’ Market to talk with friends and skateboard in the evening hours. He was shocked when he heard Petrolia Council was getting complaints about their actions.

Sharon Livingston, a retired teacher, recently told council there are about a dozen teens who are “rude and won’t stop their stunts” when people walk by. “It’s a safety concern for library users and others passing by and themselves.

“The boys are threatening to townsfolk’s and others. People should feel comfortable and safe to park their car there.

“I believe they’re bullying the rest of us.”

Livingston wanted council to post signs saying there was to be no skateboarding or cycling at the Farmers’ Market and to enforce it.  Council has asked staff to investigate and report back.

“I couldn’t believe what they were saying,” says Salisbury who was surrounded by his friends on a warm August evening.

Mike Dickinson, the most experienced skater of the crew, says the library staff is okay with the teens using the facility. “They told us we could skate here if we kept it tidy,” says Dickinson.

“We’ve never had a complaint until this year,” he says. “When people walk by we pick up our boards.”

“If there are people not being nice, we tell them off,” says Dakota Orvis.

The skaters say the problem is there is really no other place for them to go. The current facility at Englehart Park, has only a few items which are difficult to use, it’s built on an old tennis court and isn’t as good for skating as concrete and there are weeds popping up all over the surface.

The criticism to council prompted the high school students to put signs up around Petrolia which read “Skateboarding is not illegal” and Orvis has started an online petition to show council there is support for a new park in the community. Orvis and his friends think it’s time.

“Wyoming has a skateboard park,” says Mike Anderson as the others at the picnic tables listed off the other communities which have already invested in skateboard parks including Alvinston, Oil Springs, and Watford. “Everyplace, but Petrolia,” says Orvis.

“Even if I don’t get one in my time, I’d like to see my little brother get one,” says Dickenson.

The teens hope to bring their concerns to council in September.