‘Show some respect’ – that is the message from teenagers in Donington to youths who have been playing with fire using aerosol cans in their skatepark.
One of the cans was ignited at the end of a ramp displaying a graffiti memorial to Joshua Reed – their friend who died aged 19 in a car crash last year.
Other evidence of fires is behind log seating in the Teen Park, hidden from the residents opposite along Town Dam Lane.
Police fear youths could seriously burn themselves or, worse, be injured by flying shrapnel if a can exploded.
Joshua’s friends were BMXing and skateboarding at the park when the Lincolnshire Free Press inspected the damage with police on Tuesday.
Scorch marks by Joshua’s memorial, which forms one of the pieces of artwork on the park, had upset them all. One of them had a message for the culprits. He said: “Show some respect. We all knew Josh and wouldn’t have damaged his memorial.
“Someone said it was youths from Boston but we don’t know. But we’re getting new ramps and we don’t want this spoiling it for us.”
Fundraising for the skatepark was started in 2006 by a voluntary youth group called Flinders Founders.
The land was provided by the parish council and the group secured a grant of £79,000 from a government Youth Capital Fund.
Members are now applying for another £38,000 from WREN and Lincolnshire Community Grant Aid to redesign the park and install some bigger ramps.
Retired teacher Margaret Wright has been the adult member who has been with the group from the beginning.
She said: “When we got the land it was just a dump. The young people of the village have worked so hard to get the skatepark as it is today.
“They run it and maintain it and it’s somewhere they can go - even if they don’t skateboard or ride BMX cycles.
“This is why we were so angry when we heard someone had been down there setting off aerosol cans.
“I don’t think it will - but we don’t want anything jeopardising our chances of getting funding. When the members heard they all came round and said ‘it wasn’t us - we wouldn’t risk messing up our chances’.
“It’s also upset them because one of the fires was in front of the memorial to Josh Reed. We had a graffiti artist come down last October to do it with some of his friends. Josh went down there all the time.
“We want to put a stop to the fires because they are dangerous, too.”
Community beat officer PCSO Ian Coulson is a regular visitor to the skatepark with PCSO Sally Pusy.
PCSO Coulson said: “They’re good kids here and it’s a really nice set-up. The village has had a lot less trouble since the skatepark was built.
“There used to be a lot of vandalism in the village’s other park before it was built because there was nothing in the village for teenagers to do.
“If people light fires here it just tarnishes it.”
PCSO Pusy said: “Some witnesses to the fires thought someone was having a barbecue. Our concern is youths could be burned or hit by shrapnel - or the fire could spread. We need people to call us if they see something suspicious so we can stop it.”
Anyone with information can call police on 101.