Baton Rouge’s skateboarders could not ollie and flip Monday at BREC’s Extreme Sports Park on Perkins Road after a graffiti incident prompted BREC to close the skate park.
Someone sprayed red paint and spelled out the word “chap” on Sunday afternoon on one of the skateboarding ramps, BREC officials said Monday. They said they wanted to send a message that the extreme sports community needs to take ownership of their park — which BREC did by closing the skate park until the culprit or a good Samaritan cleans off the paint.
The remainder of the park, which includes running trails, playgrounds, a lake and more, is still open.
“This is not fun for us. This is not something we want to do,” said Jason Hoggatt, BREC’s special facilities manager for extreme sports. “But being that the skate park is a free park … we’re putting the onus on the users of the park to respect it and care for it.”
Hoggatt said the users of the park have responded by asking to help clean it up. A volunteer began trying to remove the spray paint Monday morning before rain disrupted his progress.
Once the spray paint is removed, the park will reopen. But Hoggatt said BREC officials will not be the ones to clean it.
“It’s not to penalize the people at all,” he said. “It’s a way to curb and deter future occurrences like this.”
Hoggatt said BREC recognizes that graffiti is often part of skateboarding culture, but that it does not have a place in a free park for where the public can go to skate.
He said this is only the third time in the park’s five-year history that they have had to close skateboarding facilities because of graffiti. The culprit this time also sprayed a picnic table.
“We’re trying to create a sense of ownership in that community,” said BREC’s Assistant Communications Director Chad Brewer. “When something like that happens, we really encourage the patrons and that group of individuals to stop things from happening.”
That sense of ownership was apparently there when the incident happened Monday. Hoggatt and Brewer said a park regular saw a culprit spray painting on the park around 1 p.m. on Sunday.
The park patron chased off the offender. Hoggatt said he was hoping the offender would come forward and offer to clean off the paint, and BREC would not press charges if that were the case. He said BREC has not filed a police report, but that the agency has filed a report with the park rangers.
“There are witnesses and hopefully they can give an accurate description, and if this person is tracked down, we will prosecute,” Brewer said.
Hoggatt said that anyone who wants to help clean the graffiti should go to the park and ask for the cleaning supplies. He discouraged people from trying to use their own supplies, like pressure washers, because, he said, they could ruin the concrete surface for skaters.
The Perkins Road Community Park is BREC’s extreme sports park. It includes skateboarding ramps, BMX ramps, playgrounds, picnic tables, running trails and more.