Crappy design, crappy construction, or crappy behavior?

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Every single joint on the sloping concrete edging of the new downtown streetscape area next to the library at Division and 3rd St. is crumbling, evidently due to skateboarders.

It looks like it’s going to be an ongoing problem… expensive to constantly repair, and more hassle for the police to enforce. Who designed this, um, feature? Who approved this design? Who’s responsible for making a change?


  1. Hmm. It does look kind of nice though. I do wonder why they added a second Northfield Library sign about five feet away from the old one.

    December 7, 2006
  2. Tracy Davis said:

    The “Libary Corner” streetscape improvement was approved about a year ago by the City Council.

    This looks to me like a construction/materials problem. There’s no reason it should be crumbling four months after installation, skateboards or no.

    December 7, 2006
  3. Chip Cuccio said:

    As a hard-core skater from back in the day, I can tell you that the design of those concrete walls are perfect for grinding.

    In that link, you’ll see a picture of how concrete walls are retrofitted with anti-grind plates. A simple thing that should have been thought of (can still be done though).

    Additionally, I agree with Tracy. I think there’s a problem with the construction; Note the expansion joint (the gap). There’s no homasote or bituminous filler in the joint. Without that padding, the joint slowly acts like a huge hammer, concrete smashing against concrete with temp. changes – eventually ruining edges and stress points.

    It’s evident that the expansion joints were made by “cutting the gaps in” with a concrete saw, rather than being “formed” for the pour. Cutting the joints is the “quick and dirty” approach, and doesn’t properly allow for joint padding/filler. Crap work, if you ask me.

    I’m Italian. Masonry is intrinsic. 😉

    December 7, 2006
  4. Kiffi Summa said:

    This is, unfortunately due to SOME of the skateboarders taking this new construction, and the metal ribs that were put over the joints [to make it supposedly un-skatable] as a challenge, rather than a downtown improvement. Don’t blame ALL skateboarders for this behavior.
    There’s a group of them, the Skateboard Coalition, that have been working very productively to design and get the city to build a skateboard plaza [looks a streetscape], which would replace the old useless skatepark. The kids who have worked very positively to achieve a new place to skate, should not take the blame for the behavior of some who are more irresponsible.
    There are design features of the “cap”on a low wall like this that would have prevented itrs ose as a skateboard site. Those designs should have been explored. Now it has the potential of a lose-lose for everyone. I really feel badly about this.

    December 7, 2006
  5. Steve Wilmot said:

    I believe skateboarding was considered when this was designed by an out of town consultant hired by the city. There were metal “anti-skate” plates at each of the concrete joints. The damage comes from skaters (and you can’t deny that there are some bad apples that have vandalized this property to skate) who essentially took a hammer and chipped the plates off the concrete.

    So, the design attempted to keep the skaters off and somebody took it as a challenge to make it skateable which is unfortunate because it not only looks bad, but the concrete will continue to chip and degrade.

    In my younger days, I rather liked the “Skateboarding is not a crime” phrase that some friends of mine shared with me. I think that while it is true that skateboarding is not a crime, vandalism is a crime and it gives a bad name to skaters as well as destroys public property.

    Is a solution a skate park and a heavier-duty Library corner? Maybe this will help.

    As an overall addition to the Northfield streetscape, I think the Library corner is well done, however, it apparantly needs some tougher details.

    December 7, 2006
  6. Chip Cuccio said:

    Steve W. wrote:

    There were metal “anti-skate” plates at each of the concrete joints. The damage comes from skaters […] who essentially took a hammer and chipped the plates off the concrete.

    Three things;

    I didn’t know there were plates installed. So thanks for clarifying.

    It’s too bad that some kids vandalized the wall, and removed the plates. That actually disappoints me quite a bit.

    RE: Placing the plates at the joints…
    Most decent masons should know that an object placed on or near a concrete expansion joint is the worst place to affix anything. It’s inherently the weakest part of concrete. See the pic where the plates were affixed more appropriately. The implementation of the precautionary mechanisms were poorly implemented, if you ask me.

    Based on the discussion, I conclude that the answer to the query-like title of the parent article is, “All of the above.”

    December 7, 2006
  7. […] Anti-grinding plates reinstalled By Griff Wigley I blogged about the damage to the concrete edging of the new downtown streetscape area next to the library earlier this month. I learned from those contributing to the comment thread that the metal plates that were originally installed to prevent skateboarders from using the edge had been vandalized/knocked off. […]

    December 26, 2006
  8. Maureen Carter said:

    the city I live in has not one but two skate parks built for skateboarding. They are well used, but it has not prevented some from continuing to skate on walls, steps, picnic tables, the community music performance band shell (which was remodeled 5 years ago and is contstantly in a shambles due to skaters refusing to stop skating on it).

    There are some skaters that will continue to damage property no matter what else is being provided. The two skate parks are nice, they are two different kinds of designs – maybe dont fulfill every possible skating need, but it is ridiculous to say that the community has not tried to provide for skaters. It is ridiculous that the skaters that are damaging public places dont care about the costs of trying to repair it too. It isnt all the skaters by any means that is engaged in the damaging behavior, but it only takes a few to really ruin nice public spaces that were provided for the whole public at great expense. The ramps that are put in so that someone with a disability can access public spaces are constantly used by skaters whipping around so fast on them that the type of collisions that could result might actually give someone a disability from trying to use the ramps for the purpose they are constructed.

    It is a frustrating issue to solve. Police have trouble catching them and sometimes the police are out on more serious calls at the time.

    August 17, 2007
  9. victor summa said:

    Maureen, you nailed just about all the frustrations surrounding this kind of conduct.

    Don’t know where you hail from but this is an old thread and it amazes me you found it almost a year since the initial issue was raised here in Northfield. In the ensuing 8/9 months since the initial damage was done to the Library Plaza wall I’d say the assault on the downtown by SB youth has lessened here in N’Fld. Skateboarders have taken a new tact building relationships with the DT and the places they usually skate.

    The Kids themselves led a campaign that was quite well put together last spring for a skateboard park. Design..budget… even worked with the Park Board on site selection. They showed real leadership in that. Unfortunately, the financial stress that plagues this community and perhaps the nation makes a lot of amenities such as the SB Park difficult to realize. Still the good sign is the rather mature attitude shown buy the kids in trying to find a solution… one for their goals and sporting pleasures and another for the entire town.

    How long will the center hold?

    How did your community manage two SB Parks – like, what were the associated costs?

    August 18, 2007

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