Cobleskill Mayor Becky Terk is tired of Teen Town being Trash Town.
She’s fed up with vandalism, drug dealing, profane graffiti, drinking, smoking and other misdeeds at Teen Town and Golding Park at the corner of North Grand and High streets.
Mayor Terk is so tired of it all, in fact, that she’s considering that the village sell the once-popular gathering spot for teenagers.
Some kids use the park as it should be used, for basketball, volleyball and skateboarding. But Mayor Terk said Golding Park and Teen Town have become a haven for others––and not just kids, but adults, too––who misuse the property.
Village Police regularly patrol the park, but the long, narrow property is bordered by woods, so perpetrators can easily escape.
Although what to do with the park has been a topic for several years, vandalism and graffiti have increased the past six months.
On a tour of the park last week, Mayor Terk pointed to a destroyed anchor fence, damaged electrical box and graffiti such as ‘F--- cops’ and ‘dead cops.’
“This community needs to decide what’s to be done,” she said.
Selling the nearly 11-acre park would be a drastic step, Mayor Terk admitted in an interview Saturday, so she’s suggesting moving the volleyball court and skateboard park to Nick Iorio Park, off Campus Court and near the village pool.
She may schedule a public hearing to see whether nearby residents would object to increased activity at Iorio Park.
Moving volleyball and skateboarding wouldn’t stop the criminal activity at Golding Park, Mayor Terk said.
However, she’s unsure whether the village can legally sell the park because it was gifted to Cobleskill years ago.
“If selling is an option, someone with determination could do something with it, and it wouldn’t be on the backs of taxpayers,” Mayor Terk said.
Selling the park would affect others who use it, such as seniors who have a meal site there––at least, before the pandemic––and James Gravina’s program for teens that started earlier this year.
Mayor Terk said Mr. Gravina’s kids take good care of the park, regularly picking up trash, but can’t be responsible for the entire property.
Contacted Saturday, Mr. Gravina agreed the park is difficult for the village to take care of but wondered how his program––counseling and working on life skills––would continue at another site.
“A lot of my kids can walk to Teen Town,” Mr. Gravina said. “My main concern is that my kids have somewhere to go.”
Those concerns and how the community feels about Teen Town and Golding Park are important, Mayor Terk said, so she’s considering a public meeting with the Rec Commission, made up of town and village members, to talk about what might be done.
“Let’s take the temperature of what’s going on in the community,” Mayor Terk said.