DRACUT — Bad things started happening hard and happening fast.
Vandalism, confrontations with adults — and even with police — left town officials wondering if they had erred in building the Dracut Skateboard Park, which opened Aug. 4.
Parents reported taking their younger children to the park, only to find older kids rolling joints on the one remaining picnic table — the other had been destroyed. A snack shack at the nearby softball field was ransacked.
Police responded to more than a dozen calls in the three days following the Friday-night ribbon-cutting ceremony. Throughout the week, police cruisers were parked in front of the park entrance at regular intervals, making sure those who were there were there for the right reasons.
Calls were coming in from all quarters saying the park should be closed.
“Give it time” was the constant refrain from selectmen, park organizers and several police officers, including Chief Kevin Richardson.
“It’s too early for us to just throw our hands up,” said Leo Vezina, president of the Dracut Skateboard Association. “It took us 13 months to get this thing built, and we’re just going to give up on it because of a few kids who don’t know what respect means?”
Officials are asking parents to get involved and spend time at the park.
“There are some parents who drop their kids off and drive away,” said a police spokesman who asked not to be named. “I think it would be an eye-opener for some of them if they stayed and saw what their kids are doing.”