Free concerts have been held there. Picnics have been enjoyed there. Farmers Markets have flourished there.

Downtown New Castle’s 1400 Plaza has been serving its purpose in many ways since completed. Unfortunately, it’s also being abused.

Friday morning, Mayor Greg York said he hated to put them up, but pointed to signs now located throughout the downtown jewel. Signs that remind residents the plaza is not a place for:

dogs;

skates or skateboards;

electric toys;

motorized toys or vehicles; and

bicycles.

“I hated to put these signs up,” York said. “I wanted the plaza to help the city look better and help us have a top-notch downtown.”

But evidence of misuse is clear.

Not far from one of the signs was a pile of dog poop.

“I love animals,” York said. “I love dogs. If they (the owner) would just carry a bag with them and pick up after their pets. We have a dog park at Baker Park. Not just a walk through the park. We have a designated dog park.

“You know it does my heart good to see a mom with two or three little kids sitting over here eating something from one of our local restaurants,” York added. “That’s what this is for. What if mom is sitting here with her kids and one of them steps in that?”

On the other side of the still new plaza are visible scuff marks, more evidence that some are disrespecting the intent of the facility.

“This concrete is not to be driven on,” York said. “I’d hoped that we could have something nice and that we would all respect it. I don’t expect people to come out here and have to paint and pick up. We’ve got people’s names in here, families who have donated to make this happen. And someone’s driving on the plaza, leaving scuff marks.

“Yeah, I’m kind of grumpy about it,” York continued. “I’ve put a lot of hours in here and it’s not for people to abuse.”

York said some kind of pipe barrier may have to be installed to prevent future occurrences.

Then there’s the disappointing signs that local skateboarders and bicyclists are also abusing the plaza. York said that’s perhaps the most outrageous abuse of all, since there is a state-of-the-art skatepark just minutes away.

“We spend $300,000 on a skatepark and bicyclers coming down here, thinking they can come downhill and hit their brakes. I’ve asked bicyclers and skateboarders to please not ride here. That’s what we built the skate park for.”

“A lot of people love 1400 Plaza, respect it and that’s what it’s for,” York concluded. “I get a lot of compliments on it. Some people are really proud of it. But there are some who literally abuse it and it cuts to the quick in a hurry.”

Cameras to help protect the plaza are scheduled to be installed this summer. In the meantime, York urged residents who see abuse taking place at 1400 Plaza to call the police.