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Editorial: Moving skate park is not pragmatic

Published 10:04am Thursday, October 31, 2013

Let’s leave the skate park where it is.

It’s clear looking at the numbers for police calls to City Beach that from 2005 to 2012 nothing was out of hand or unusual. The police came to the park 10 or fewer times a year.

Suddenly, they had 24 calls in 2013.

It might seem like suddenly there is a problem, but the truth is it isn’t that difficult for a citizen or two to call the police a lot over little things and spike the number of complaints. For instance, if users are at the skate park a few minutes after the set closing time, a call to police went in.

And none of those police responses revealed drugs, violence, vandalism or weapons.

Skateboarding is a sport that many children enjoy, and they deserve a place to play. It’s hard enough to get children to be out and about and off the couch. There are plenty of ballparks, but Americans just don’t see young people gathering for unscheduled baseball games like in the olden days. Sports that can be played individually or as a group, such as basketball, golf, disc golf, ice hockey and skateboarding, bring out the young people. They go, they play and maybe some others join them while they are there.

Anyone who purchases a house next to a park — any park — knows that the public is free to use that space. And the public includes people of all ages and backgrounds and some will have foul language and naughty behavior. There’s no way to completely control the public. Perhaps at one time living next to a ballfield produced problems of bad language and foul behavior. Today, the fields sit empty except when there are leagues or practices.

Either way, most users of the skate park behave and enjoy the facilities.

For most property owners, the plus side of being next to park land is they get open space to view, rather than the side of a neighbor’s house. Their children have a place to play within sight of their parents. Plus, they have the added social enjoyment of people watching and, sometimes, chatting with the ones they know.

In the case of the skate park, not only do neighbors get to be near the park and a beach, they get about the longest view of Fountain Lake possible, a little under a mile.

Frankly, it’s good that neighbors are concerned about behavior at the skate park. It’s good to know that people care about their parks and the children at the parks. The intentions are good.

And we stand by our prior statement that if behavior at the skate park truly gets out of hand, a temporary closing — perhaps a week — would influence the users to shape up. They would urge each other to behave properly: “Hey, don’t do that here. They’ll close the park on us.”

That sounds like a feasible, pragmatic solution. Moving the skate park seems to be a drastic measure.