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Friday, August 12, 2011

Beltline skate park stained with grease dripping from WSB-TV tower's wires (Update)

The skate park near Freedom Parkway is covered in splotches oil that fell from wires hooked to a nearby TV tower
  • Thomas Wheatley
  • The skate park near Freedom Parkway is covered in splotches of grease that fell from wires hooked to a nearby TV tower
Been to the Beltline skate park in the last few days? It's not a pretty sight.

The bowls and curbs in the Old Fourth Ward facility were officially closed to skateboarders the last few days after a "grease-like agent" applied to the adjacent WSB-TV tower's guy-wires began dripping and splattering the ground below.

Contractors applied the grease, which a WSB spokesman says is "anti-corrosive" and "biodegradable," a few days ago. The lubricant is slathered on the wires by hand every 10 years for maintenance. According to one worker on the scene, it also apparently helps control the migration of rats. (Factoid: Such overhead wires are like interstates for rodents.) Several gusts of wind caused the grease, which was fluid after baking in the sun, to drip and take flight, covering the new skate park and the surrounding area in black, viscous splotches.

A clean-up crew was immediately dispatched by WSB, Beltline Spokesman Ethan Davidson said. When CL visited the site yesterday, the team was winding down for the day. Splotches were still visible on the park's smooth white cement, along the mounds, and inside the bowls. The street outside the facility was also dotted with oil. Yellow tape marked affected areas to ward off skaters, but many still rode. Crews were expected to return this morning.

"It’s a fluid situation — no pun intended, seriously — in terms of knowing how it will ultimately be treated," Davidson said yesterday evening. "I think you can get the slickness off the concrete. The question is over whether there’s a lasting mark and what you can do about that."

A worker told CL the same yesterday. On a scale of one to ten, he said the clean-up effort was an "eight-and-a-half." Removing the grease wasn't a problem, he said. But he searched for hours to find a cleaning solution that could remove the black stain from the pavement. According to a WSB spokesman, the team is using "green" cleaning products approved by the Beltline, including an agent involved in graffiti removal, and are "making sure that anything else that spills, our clean-up crew cleans it up." Workers are only focusing on the grease that's marred the skate park, however, and not on the surrounding streets.

"We’ll give updates as we learn more," Davidson says. "We want to make sure people can skate there as soon as possible.

UPDATE, 10:25 p.m.: And here's one of the updates. Davidson writes to say the skate park will be open throughout the weekend. Workers will return Monday to finish the clean-up effort.

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