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Date of Issue: November 08, 2007

Skate park under electronic eye

The Holmes Beach Skate Park reopened Nov. 1 with an electronic eye trained on the action — and not for a future skateboard movie.

The Holmes Beach Police Department is watching to make sure the vandalism that occurred at the park Oct. 8 does not reoccur.

And, in the next few weeks, the electronic eye is going to get an upgrade — like Lasik for video cameras.

In early October, vandals tore down a sign and ripped out a safety railing at the park.

The vandalism prompted city officials to shut down the park until it could be repaired and security improved.

Meanwhile, going on tips to Manatee County Crime Stoppers and with the help of Island parents, police questioned about a dozen youngsters. Authorities arrested one unnamed teenager with criminal mischief and recommended three other children to the teen court program.

The skate park, however, remained closed.

On Oct. 31, repairs to the ramp in the park were made.

The next morning, HBPD Chief Jay Romine seemed eager to begin the new month with an open skate park.

“We want to get it open as much as everybody does,” he said.

By that afternoon, Romine announced the park was open again and that the area was under video surveillance.

“These kids are being watched,” said Mayor Rich Bohnenberger.

And additional high-tech equipment that requires the installation of a power cable under 59th Street from the park to city hall is being installed, Romine added.

Along with the security improvements to the park, the city has plans to build what Bohnenberger called a “tot lot.”

The playground for children age 6 and under will feature two slides and other equipment. The mayor said he wanted the “tot lot” near the skate park so parents could easily watch their children skating and playing.

A ceremony naming the park for HBPD officer Pete Lannon, the Anna Maria Elementary School officer who died after a year-long battle with cancer, was delayed due to the vandalism. Romine said a new date for the ceremony had not been set.