Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Skatin' Through

Full disclosure: I have a weakness for all sorts of skaters. Especially a certain group of fast girls.

But even if I didn't, I like the idea of a city skate park. This one is in Denver.

The city has earmarked $440,000 for a skate park in the brand new fiscal year's budget, thanks in part to a previous plan within the city administration and in part to the advocacy of California native Aaron Shafer and Skatelife Memphis.

(To read my original column about the proposed park, go here.)

The city doesn't seem to have a firm timetable for the project. Parks director Cindy Buchanan said that they are taking their time to make sure they do everything right, especially in terms of the liability and legal issues.

(And since Parks is in charge of the city pools where two teenagers recently drowned, who can blame them?)

But Shafer points out that almost all skateboarding accidents happen on streets, not in skate parks, with irregular surfaces accounting for 50 percent of all skateboarding injuries.

It seems to me that a skate park — like Shafer says — is an amenity and, in a city known for its high levels of obesity, its low levels of education, and its racial division, one that's needed.

I once heard Charleston mayor Joe Riley say that a great city is one that poor people and rich people can enjoy equally. Since then, I use that as a litmus test for projects and ideas; sometimes the simplest things can be the most effective.

The city hasn't chosen a location for the skate park, though Shafer would like to see it as Overton Park. Glenn Cox of Overton advocacy group Park Friends says they are reviewing Shafer's proposal to see if they'll send a letter of support to the city, but that they might not mind a skate park where the baseball diamond is.

"We'd like to see it take up half of the parking lot near Rainbow Lake," Cox said. "All [the parking lot] does is breed predators and drug dealers. There's no reason for anyone to come to Overton Park and sit in your car."

In other news, Mike Lasiter of Mid-South Homebuyers says that there is talk of moving Skate Park of Memphis' bowl, which he spent 11 weeks building, to a park near Cooper Young.

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