VIDEO: Skateboard Park Causing Headaches for Church
The constant noise, cursing, and skateboarders' abusing church property is causing problems for St. John Vianney Church in Colonia.
That's because the park, built on a former basketball court, is cheek-by-jowl with the church, and many of the kids - and adults - who come to use the park are causing a nuisance.
"I open the church for mass early in the morning, and when I get here at 7 am, they're already here," said Father John Gloss, assistant pastor at St. John Vianney.
The skateboarders, many of whom are adults, not the children for whom the park was designed, take their skateboarding very seriously. And by some accounts, they aren't even from the area.
"I've seen cars parked in our parking lot with New York [license] plates," Gloss said.
They litter the church's parking lot, leave broken bottles and glass, and curse up a storm, sometimes even aiming their epithets at some of the ladies who work at the church.
They also have been using the church for their restroom pit stops, Gloss said.
"They came into the church with their skateboards during a wedding to use the bathroom," he said.
It's gotten so bad that Gloss has taken to keeping the church locked during the day, which causes hardship to the church's elderly parishioners who like to come by the church to pray.
The park, which hasn't even officially opened yet, is deposited on a tiny patch of land between the church and the Evergreen Senior Center on Inman Avenue.
"We used to have a basketball court there and a small park. It was peaceful and tranquil. We never had a problem," Gloss said.
The skateboard park, which was built with $500,000 of borrowed money, was to be one of the new "entertainment opportunities" Mayor John McCormac touted, along with the miniature golf course built on a former town dump behind the Woodbridge Community Center.
Despite fears that the skateboard park would create just such problems, McCormac pushed through with the bond and the park. Father Gloss said that it's not just a weekend issue; the adults who come to use the park are there weekdays as well as weekends, from as early as 7 am to dark.
The Woodbridge Police had had a camera on the park, which has since been removed, Gloss said. Now the police spend a lot of time answering calls about problems with the adults in the park.
McCormac had a row of evergreens planted between the park and the church, but it seems to have made little difference in how the users of the park behave.
"They park here, and they take up space that our parishioners need to park their cars to come to church," Gloss said. "And if anything happens, who is going to be legally liable?"
Councilman Bob Luban, who represents Colonia, had cast the sole dissenting vote against the bonding for the skateboard park.
"It's a well built park. You can tell it cost a lot of money," Luban said. "But this wasn't a good place to put it. It's causing the church problems, and it's bringing in people who aren't from Woodbridge, but from outside the area.
"This is a problem that is going to have to be solved for the good of the people in Colonia."