Weather, wheels and hundreds of teen-age hands have taken a toll on the Skateboard Park at Naval Heritage Park in Port Royal. Where the paint hasn't worn thin or started to peel, the pavilion columns bear declarations of love, hate or general musings about the world.
But town officials intend to wipe the slate clean, so to speak, with a fresh coat of paint.
Town Council picked Nielson Construction LLC to do the work after it bid just more than $47,800. Bids from three other companies ranged as high as $65,000.
The town will use an expensive, graffiti-resistant paint for much of the park, according to town manager Van Willis. It doesn't deter people from spraying paint, but the graffiti doesn't adhere well to it, which makes it easy to remove.
The wood park was built in the late 1990s. Money from a special tax district paid for the park, and a pavilion roof was added later. Tax-district money also will be used for the paint job, Willis said.
It's not clear when work will begin, but council members hope it starts soon. Not only is Naval Heritage Park home to the skateboard park; it hosts a farmers market each Saturday and community events throughout the year.
"It needs painting," Mayor Sam Murray said. "And quick," Councilman Joe Lee added.
Through the years, volunteers from organizations that include Beaufort church The Link have organized skateboard park clean-up days. In 2010, Port Royal spent less than $10,000 on materials, and volunteers applied skateboard-grade material to skating surfaces, spread mulch and did some painting. Volunteers also helped build stairs, grind bars and other features.
Kenneth Baughman lives in Port Royal and said his 10-year-old son, 12-year-old nephew and their friend frequently spend afternoons at the park until he picks them up before dusk.
Baughman is glad they have a free place to go, but wishes the park users would help more at keeping the area clear of litter and the park looking neat. He worries that one day skaters might have to pay to use the park because of the cost of maintenance.
"They should have pride in the park," he said.
Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/EyeOnPortRoyal.