Citing rowdy behavior, Armatage Park’s daily open gym hours have been cut. Jerry Peterson, the building supervisor, said he decided to limit the hours in order to regain control of the building. "It was kind of a free-for-all; there would be 40 to 50 kids hanging outside and in the main entrance of the building," said Peterson.
Peterson listed problems with teenagers smoking (banned on all Park Board sites), swearing in the Tot Lots, stealing food and trashing the building. He also said kids coming in from other neighborhoods caused fights.
The increased trouble at the park comes from the neighborhood’s changing demographics, Peterson said: "There’s a lot of transition in the neighborhood. Kids move in and out from the apartments, and the gym attracts kids from all over the city."
Peterson added that the park doesn’t have the funds to pay staff to simply watch kids. "Our budgets are a joke," he said.
Peterson said he plans to focus on kids who are regulars at Armatage Park this fall, and program according to their interests. Though he does want to include some unstructured time, "we can get too philosophical — sometimes kids just want to hang out," said Peterson.
This fall, open gym for teenagers will be Wednesdays 4:30-5:30 p.m. and teen nights will be 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Mondays. Call Armatage Park for more information at 370-4912.