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Santa Maria skate park filled with wood chips after forced entry, vandalism
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Santa Maria skate park filled with wood chips after forced entry, vandalism

After repeated incidents of forced entry into the now-closed Santa Maria skate park, city officials on Monday covered concrete, ramps and boxes with wood chips to discourage visitors. 

The skate park, located in the Crossroads Center area, was closed April 2 over concerns about residents gathering and not practicing social distancing amid the coronavirus outbreak, according to Recreation and Parks Department Director Alex Posada.

Despite the closure, residents have continued to forcibly enter and use the skate park, said city spokesman Mark van de Kamp.

"There have been several acts of vandalism, [including] cutting fencing to gain access, graffiti on ramps, etc., since the park was closed," van de Kamp said. 

Signs noting the closure have been posted by the outdoor skate area, along with metal fencing secured by a locked gate.

However, on Wednesday, the lock had been broken and the fence was damaged in various places, suggesting signs of forced entry into the area.

Word of the wood chips being spread elicited anger on social media, with some individuals stating residents will likely still find a way to enter and use the park.

"I saw them filling it yesterday, I was so mad," one Santa Maria resident posted on Facebook on Tuesday. 

Others expressed concern that the city had spent excessive funds to fill the area.

The city did not confirm the cost associated with laying the wood chips.

City officials have not decided on a reopening date for the skate park or the removal of the wood chips, but that will likely take place toward the end of the county's phased reopening process, Posada said.

Laura Place covers city government for the Santa Maria Times.

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Santa Maria City Reporter

Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Laura Place covers city government, policy and elections in Santa Maria and Santa Barbara County. Follow her on Twitter @itslaurasplace

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The following is taken from the Santa Maria Police Department's calls-for-service log and the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office daily arrest log. Those appearing as "arrested" are only suspected of the crime indicated but are presumed innocent.

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