Editorial: When school is in, the skate park must be out
Pittsfield's skate park is designed primarily for young people, who presumably have no need of it during school hours. Keeping it open during school hours was only defensible as long it created no problems.
The park near Pittsfield High School became a problem two weeks ago when it was the scene of a knifing incident that resulted in a minor injury and the arrest of two juveniles. The School Committee has recommended to the Parks Commission that the park be closed during school hours, at least as a temporary measure.
Closing the park when students are presumably in the classroom would enable the PHS staffers currently monitoring the park to focus on the school itself, which is where their presence should be focused. Doing so would undoubtedly create good will in the neighborhood as well. Security cameras, as PHS Principal Matthew Bishop observed at Tuesday night's Parks Commission hearing, would be useful in solving crimes at the park but not in preventing them.
The ability of some of the young people involved in the park fight to flee into the PHS building exposes gaps in an open campus policy that arose because of the high number of students squeezed into the building. That's a concern at a time when school shootings are no longer a rarity and school systems are focused on ways of preventing unauthorized people from getting in.
Closing the park during school hours would be unfair to the adults and college students who use it without abusing it, but safety must come before fairness in this case. People will be inconvenienced by the institution of this policy, but it will remove headaches for school administrators — and perhaps avoid far more serious problems in the future.
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.