By Nick Nunn
A couple of weeks back, at a Madison City Council meeting, Chad Foster spoke to the council about the possibility of building a skateboard park at one of Madison’s existing parks. In broad terms, Foster outlined what a proposed skate park would require as far as construction, area and cost; noted that Rutledge and many cities near Madison already have skate parks; and repeatedly described skateboarding as a “safe” activity for individual athletes.
It was only at that point – his insistence that skateboarding is safe – that I diverged from Mr. Foster.
Skateboarding is many things, but safe it is not, and I’ve got the scars on my knees and elbows to prove it.
Yep, your perfectly well-adapted, in all (most) ways normal sports writer was once a moderately ardent skateboarder, injuring myself in one of the most teen-like ways possible all over the streets and sidewalks of Bostwick.
My cousins, my brother and I – among other non-relatives – were chased off from just about every paved surface in Bostwick at least a half-dozen times.
They hated us at Gibbs Memorial, Bostwick United Methodist, the Bostwick Citgo, the post office and several private residences.
We resorted to skating in Highway 83 after it was repaved, and they chased us from there as well.
We didn’t want to skate at these places, you understand, but we were forced to by a lack of a designated place (i.e. a skate park) and of driver’s licenses.
The point is, if kids want to skate, they will skate, and, being the altar boys that alternative sports always attracts, if they have no approved place to skate, they will continue to skate where they can, even after you run them off time and time again.
Therefore, I’m all for the construction of a skate park in Madison, given one condition: there is enough of an interest in the general youth population to make a skate park worth the cost and the real estate that it will take up at a city park.
Mr. Foster did not attempt to conceal the fact that he has children that skate. More than likely, those children also have friends who skate as well, but should we utilize funds and space for an activity that maybe only a handful of children will enjoy?
Perhaps a greater amount of use would come of some other type of facility being built at a city park.
Skateboarding may still be popular, but I doubt that it has as many converts as it did in its heyday, about a decade ago when people were buying Tony Hawk merchandise as fast as they could make it.
Also, there was a skate park at MCHS only a few years ago, situated approximately where the new gym currently sits. It was built by the skate club at MCHS but, after only a few years, it fell into disrepair because of a lack of use.
Again, I want to state that I’m leaning in favor of a skate park being built, but that might be because I still wish that I had one when I was still skating.
Before such plans are advanced, however, a real and honest assessment whether or not there is actually enough interest in the park to make it worthwhile should be made.