Tensions reignite around city roller rink

Sean Philip Cotter

Almost a year after York City residents complained of unruly teens coming out of a roller skating rink and causing havoc on Sunday nights, locals say it's happening again.

At the monthly meeting of the Veterans Memorial Park Neighborhood Association, residents Wednesday night discussed how to deal with the trouble that rolls around at 9:30 p.m. Sundays when the doors of the Roll 'R' Way Family Skating Center on Vander Avenue open up, releasing groups of kids who come to the weekly hip-hop night.

Carol Hill-Evans, one of the leaders of the neighborhood association, said they will be circulating a petition to try to persuade the owner of the roller rink to stop having the event.

"The kids are vandalizing the neighborhood," said Hill-Evans, who's also the president of the York City Council. She and other residents talked about kids throwing rocks, threatening residents, fighting and, on one occasion, having sex in someone's backyard. The people who live in the area feel threatened, they said, worried about themselves and their property.

"I had a rock thrown at me one night," said Bill Bolt, the other leader of the neighborhood association.

Hill-Evans said there are as many as 50 or 60 kids sometimes, walking around for about half an hour around Edgar Street and Vander Avenue, as well as the surrounding streets.

Roll 'R' Way Family Skating Center

Resident Stacey Boyer, who was one of the 16 people at the neighborhood meeting at the York City Ice Arena right across the street from the Roll 'R' Way, said the goal is not to put the roller rink out of business.

"We're not trying to shut it down," she said. "Just change the event, make everyone happy."

Owner: Frank Quintin, who owns the roller rink, said he's not going to stop having the discount hip-hop night, to which tickets cost $2 instead of the normal $5.50.

Quintin thinks he'd make a few thousand dollars less a month if he didn't have the event, which draws 200 to 300 kids a night.

"Are they willing to pay my bills if they shut it down?" he asked.

The residents also talked about using the city's nuisance-abatement ordinance to take action against the rink. That would work only if issues started inside the rink, rather than after people had left it.

Hill-Evans and others said a fight two weeks ago that resulted in police citing two girls did indeed start in the building; if police determine it did, that could result in some "points" against the establishment. If too many accrue, the city can take action.

Quintin told The York Dispatch the fight did not start inside, saying he called police when the two 12-year-olds fought outside the rink.

Quintin rolled his eyes when he heard the neighborhood group's concerns, and accused the group of taking a "not in my backyard" attitude. He said people clamor for events for kids to do in the city, but not when it brings a big group of city kids into their neighborhood.

'They're noisy': He said the event draws a young crowd — early teens and younger.

"They walk home, they're noisy," Quintin said

He acknowledges that would be frustrating; he says he wouldn't like it if loud kids were coming through his neighborhood at night. But, Quintin said, he has walked with kids leaving the event, and they pass through the neighborhood and disperse. He said the residents who are outside telling the kids to be quiet are exacerbating the issue.

"They're just looking for trouble," he said.

Quintin also said what the kids do when they leave the rink is not on him.

"Whose responsibility are those kids?" he asked. He said he doesn't think it's his once they walk off the property.

But the residents at the meeting disagree, saying it's incumbent upon Quintin to make sure his event isn't causing problems for everyone around him.

"It's not fair to us," said resident Anita Banks.

— Reach Sean Cotter atscotter@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at@SPCotterYD.