BARSTOW - Rex and Lydia McGuire live at the corner of Belinda and Virginia Way. From their front yard, they can see the edges of the skate park down Belinda at Dana Park. They have seen skaters come to the park in droves, converging on the park's bowl and lips as early as 6 a.m. during the summer. They have seen it became a place for Barstow's youth. But, there is a "but."

"It's just a hang out and party place," Rex McGuire said. "This is a great thing if it's not abused."

Rex said he the park is dangerously unsupervised. He has seen fights break out, kids' skateboards stolen, trash strewn about the park, and now, graffiti. The park has gotten worse, Rex said, and he is not alone in his opinion. His wife, Lydia, spoke at the City Council meeting on Monday as did other area neighbors about concerns with the fighting, stealing, coarse language and disrespect that has descended on Dana Park.

"They built it; the city built it. Now they need to take care of it," Rex said.

With the Barstow Police Department just down Belinda a few blocks, Rex and his neighbor, Pasquale Marquez, cannot figure out why the police officers do not patrol the park more.
"I see units pass on by, but they never stop," Marquez said.

Both think a police presence in the area, not strictly to enforce rules and break up fights, but to mingle with the kids will improve the situations. Rex also suggested putting up a fence or charging skaters to use the park.

Two officers from the Barstow Police Department could not comment on what the department is doing to patrol the skate park.

Council member Julie Hackbarth-McIntyre said the city will meet with the concerned parents in the area and develop solutions to the skate park's problems. She said a fence has been considered on part on the park to channel skaters away from neighboring lawns, but she said, the city cannot fence the park in without assuming liability. She hopes the upcoming meetings with parents and scheduled agenda time at the next City Council will produce several different solutions.

"There's a lot o good kids up there using that park and there's probably just a handful making them look bad," Hackbarth-McIntyre said. "I don't want to see a handful of kids ruin it for those who are enjoying it."

Skaters at the park on Wednesday agreed that the fights are ruining the skate park. Jesse Flores, 18, said the fights are over stupid and trivial matters and often involve skaters from out of town. Steven Shede, 16, wants it to stop.

"People from out of town need to stop picking on little kids," he said.

Others think the cops will do nothing to stop the fights at the park. Shede said that when the cops show up, the fights break-up and people scattered before they can anything. Another skater, Steve Williams, is worried about the reputation the park is getting because of the fights.

"This is not a fight zone. This is a skate zone," he said.

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