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Good luck to skaters, Park BoardPosted Wednesday, January 14, 2009, at 3:22 PM
There were several comments posted online at the end of a story that touched on problems associated with the skateboarding area in the Worthington Park. I don't have the answer to solve the problem but I can answer a couple of questions that were raised.
One was are there trash cans available in the area? The answer is yes, plenty.
Is the area easily accessible? Very much so.
Is there adequate parking? Definitely. Nearby? Yes. Enough to discourage driving in and parking on the grass? Yes, there is really no need for any visitors to drive on the grass at this park.
Are townspeople aware of the damage that was done to the skaters' stuff during the flood? Probably not.
Would townspeople be willing to help repair or rebuild their ramps, etc., if more knew of the need? Probably some would.
Is it the town's responsibility to replace or repair the damage done? Don't think so. The "equipment" like rails and ramps are brought there by the skaters and are not provided by the town or the park -- it's their own contribution to the area which they leave there at their own risk. The concrete pad was paid for out of Park Board funds but the Park Board does not provide ramps or rails, etc.
Did the skaters work hard to build those first ramps and rails? Yes, they did. And I'm thinking of a couple in particular who spent their money on some new materials, gathered up some used materials and worked extra hard putting things together. Much of what they did was then lost to flood damage -- the area was underwater for days and soggy for much longer. It was a mess.
How did this skateboarding area come about anyway? It happened because members of the Park Board listened to the kids and supported them. When many others said it wasn't a good idea to put in a skateboard area -- that it would be trouble, the Park Board stood firm and spent a good chunk of money doing something for this crowd. They were willing to take the gamble.
But then later, there were some complaints and some problems. To me, it seems to be one of a "bad apple" or maybe a few "bad apples."
The park is a place that is shared by all -- it's a place for (as one poster put it) "blue-haired" people going to family reunions and club get-togethers, and guys playing a pick-up game on the basketball court, families with little ones on the playground, walkers of all ages getting some exercise, and skaters too. They've all got to get along.
I'm thinking the reason some people have soured on the idea of the skateboard area is not because of a little trash left behind or even a few ruts in the grass. I'm thinking the reason is because a bad apple said something, or did something, that made them feel so uncomfortable, they decided it would probably be best if they didn't walk in the park anymore.
I heard some stories of incidents and thought maybe the storytellers were exaggerating or just needed to be around teenagers more ... and then it happened to me. It was not good. I got a better understanding of why people are complaining. Now I see both sides.
I want the skateboard area to stay, but I don't ever want to have to run into that bad apple again. Sometimes it only takes one to ruin things for many.
Some comments warned against stereotyping skaters as being bad and pointed out that ball players (they mentioned Pacers) can be bad too. There's some great kids hanging out in the park -- it's not a stereotyping thing -- the area just happens to be a cool place and a couple of those apples like to go there.
Good luck to the skaters and the Park Board too -- I hope something gets worked out when they have their meeting. Skaters need a place to skate and hang out. And, walkers need to be able to take a peaceful walk in the park. And nobody needs bad apples.
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