This past week I have been getting emails and seeing posts on Facebook, which are rabidly against the proposed skatepark in Moulton Meadows park.
I am surprised to see such fear around what a skateboard-structure may bring. I honestly don’t see offering a skate-structure as any different as offering a basketball court, a tennis court, or a playscape. (To those who object to the “concrete” of a skating structure, consider the content of these other facilities.)
Skateboarding is a deeply-embedded part of the youth culture in southern California and in our town. I see 8-10 year-old kids all over the place, wearing their helmets and working on their moves. Why deny them this opportunity to polish skills early on a summer morning with their friends, so that they don’t need to “schedule” a drive from a parent to another out-of-town park? I’m sure there are many kids who live in the Moulton Meadows area who would really enjoy this new aspect of their neighborhood park!
In reading the emails, I heard fear of traffic from “outsiders” coming up to the park. Frankly, I don’t perceive the risk of mass quantities of “outsiders” venturing to our most remote park for a skate structure when there are so many “cooler” places they can drive to for the same purpose. This would primarily serve the community in which it is embedded.
I also heard fear of a carelessly-tossed cigarette, and other environmental disrespect. Is this not profiling a certain skateboard-enthusiast “type” who would be far more likely to behave disrespectfully? Implicit in all these complaints is a fear of the “outsiders” who will pour up the hill and “congregate.” Outsiders who won’t respect the peaceful values of the residents. This sounds xenophobic to me.
Finally, there is a fear that the location would tempt more people into downhill skateboarding on the streets. Isn’t the sport of speed-boarding completely different than the sophisticated flips and twists kids perfect on those concrete structures? Also, if there is a structure offered, mightn’t it draw kids away from the more dangerous speed-boarding?
I think we need to ask ourselves what we really fear in this proposed skateboard structure, and reality-test to see if these fears are founded. We need to explore our own stereotypes and prejudices about people who love to skateboard. Only then can we make a fair and well-reasoned decision.
Kate Rogers, Laguna Beach