December 17, 2014

Elyria
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Man sues Avon Lake to get skate park closed

Jake Lyman, 15, of Avon Lake practices his skateboarding skills at Weiss Park Skatepark on Wednesday. KRISTIN BAUER | CHRONICLE

Jake Lyman, 15, of Avon Lake practices his skateboarding skills at Weiss Park Skatepark on Wednesday. KRISTIN BAUER | CHRONICLE

AVON LAKE — It was what James Pietrangelo II described as the “cacophonous noise” of a skate park near his house that caused him to file a lawsuit against the city on Wednesday, calling for the park to be closed.

“I had to sue for my safety,” Pietrangelo said, describing how he has been harassed by skaters at the park since he started calling police about the noise. “It’s a nightmare.”

The park in the east corner of Weiss Field was established almost eight years before Pietrangelo moved to the area. According to Avon Lake Mayor Greg Zilka, the city took care in determining the park’s location almost 10 years ago and discussed the park with people who lived in the area at the time.

“We try to respect the property rights of our residents,” Zilka said. However, he added, “If you’re going to purchase or rent an area, you need to be aware of your surroundings.”

Zilka said that since the park was established it has garnered some complaints from residents in the area. However, it was only in June that Pietrangelo, who lives across from the park on the 33300 block of Fairport Drive, started meeting with Zilka to address the problem.

For Pietrangelo, it is not only the noise, but alleged drug abuse, harassment from skaters and the lack of supervision for teenagers and children at the park, which prompted the complaints.

“It’s like watching a human train wreck,” Pietrangelo said.

Some of Pietrangelo’s neighbors agree with his complaints. Jean Groscost, who has lived on Fairport Drive since before the park was established, takes issue with the noise from the park and the people who come to skate.

“It brings the riffraff in,” Groscost said.

In response to the complaints, Zilka said that the city increased police presence in the area over the summer, hoping to keep the noise to a minimum.

“We fully understand that the park creates noise,” Zilka said, adding that following Pietrangelo’s complaints, the city set up more signs in the area stating the hours of the skate park as 8 a.m. to dusk.

However, according to Pietrangelo, the signs and increased police presence didn’t stop the noise, which he describes as a “cannon-like” rumbling.

“It’s like putting a Band-Aid over a gaping wound,” Pietrangelo said.

Not everyone takes issue with the park. For many members of Avon Lake, the park is a valuable resource.

Fifteen year-old skater Jake Lyman said for him, the skate park is a way to unwind.

“(Skating) expresses who I am without people judging me. If the park closes, where am I going to skate?” he said.

Contact Anna Merriman at 329-7245 or amerriman@chroniclet.com.