AMHERST – Judging art is highly subjective. One person’s masterpiece is another person’s garbage. This holds true among skateboarders as well.
“Some stuff looks terrible, like that FTW over there, they can get rid of that, it just looks stupid.” said 15-year-old Gary Downey as he points to graffiti on the mini-bowl at the Amherst Lions Skate Park. “But the AAR on the other side (of the mini-bowl), they should keep that.”
Richard Quigley, who was skating at the park last night with Downey, said the graffiti doesn’t bother him, and said it doesn’t bother most skateboarders.
“It’s the culture of skateboarding,” said Quigley. “Every skate park has graffiti.”
Quigley said they have their own skate crew called Dirty Amherst Kids.
“We put DAK on the park and they took it away,” said Quigley.
The graffiti tags are taken away by town employees by painting patches over the graffiti.
“There was graffiti on there about two or three weeks ago,” said Amherst Town Councilor George Baker last night at the skate park as he looked upon new graffiti. “When I noticed it I contacted the town and they came out and removed it.”
Quigley said the patches painted by the town look worse than the original graffiti, and Downey agrees.
“Painting over the words with a patch looks terrible,” he said as he points to a blue patch at the top of the parks largest ramp.
It doesn’t matter if the graffiti says DAK, FTW, AAR or is a marijuana leaf, Baker said the town has a zero-tolerance policy for graffiti and will patch it over it.
“This council is committed to not letting graffiti destroy a beautiful skateboard park,” said Baker. “It’s a skateboard park that is recognized across Nova Scotia and New Brunswick as one of the nicest parks, and that’s the way we want to keep it.”
Baker said the youth should take their artistic ambitions elsewhere.
“A lot of money went into this from government and from the Lions Club, and I don’t think any level of government or the Lions Club would like the skateboard park defaced by graffiti,” said Baker. “If kids want to do graffiti they can do in their own setting on paper, not on hard-earned tax-payers money. We have this property for youth to enjoy, and to improve the town.”
Asked if he thinks youth need a forum where they can gather to express their graffiti skills, Baker said, “Halifax tried that and it didn’t work.”
"They had an old school and they were having trouble with graffiti in the neighborhood, so they let them paint on the old school,” said Baker. “It was great, until the school was completely painted, and then they were back doing the exact same thing in the neighborhood.”
“Once you allow kids to buy paint and allow them to paint one wall, you’re going to have nothing but the whole town to spray, because some kids don’t know when to stop.”
Baker said they will continue to patch any graffiti painted in the park.
“If you remove it the minute it gets there it will not come back, but if you leave it in one area it will grow and grow and grow,” he said. “I’m disappointed that some youth are coming up here trying to destroy a beautiful facility. I wish that whoever is doing it would stop before it ruins it for all youth in our community.”
Graffiti is against the law, and Baker said they will likely have to install cameras to monitor the facility.
Asked what they think of cameras being installed, Quigley and Downey shrugged their shoulders.
“It doesn’t really bother us,” said Downey.
More pictures of the skate park grafitti can be seen on the slide show at www.cumberlandnewsnow.com.