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PRAB Skateboard Park Recommendation Deserves Our Support

We owe it to our youth to build a permanent skateboard park.

Most of the voices heard at the PRAB meetings have been neighbors of proposed skateboard park sites. What is it about skateboard parks that turn reasonable people toward such seemingly self-serving behavior? What would people be saying if a tennis court were under consideration? Or a shuffleboard? Was there a similar furor when the swimming pool was relocated?

Since June, I have lived within 100 feet of the present skateboard park. My place is on the first floor, has south and west facing windows and a balcony on the west end. I have been able to observe and hear the action at the park, which opened the week I moved in and was dismantled in mid-October.

From my dwelling, the sound of the activity is noticeable, but no more so than the highway traffic and less so than the trains. Admittedly, it may be louder for people living in upper floors in my building. But I don't find it objectionable - and, in fact, I tuned it out along with the other sounds after I had been here a week or so. On hot days, when I closed my windows and turned on the air conditioner, I couldn't hear any of the ambient sounds - skateboards or cars and trucks, although I could still barely hear the train whistle!

I have not observed objectionable behavior on the part of skateboard park users. They arrive and leave the park on foot, not on board. They appear to respect the area by using the trash receptacles.  They seem pleased when I and other walkers along the paths surrounding the park stop to admire the amazing things they do.  Of course, there may be users who break rules, but where is this not true? That's why we have our police department - for enforcement. In fact, I imagine there is a fair amount of enforcement among the skateboarders, themselves!

My observation is that the park is part of a lively destination for neighbors and people from other parts of town. The skate park attracts not only kids of all ages, mostly male, on their skateboards, but parents with strollers and toddlers often accompanied their elementary age children who use the ramps to test their tricycles, scooters, and shoes! Around the corner is a tot-lot where young families gather. Nearby is the beautiful pergola where people of all ages find a shady spot to sit. Cyclists roll by on the trails, shared by walkers who use it at all times for recreation and for getting from here to there. Several days a week, local farmers spread their wares for shoppers from all over town to explore and purchase. And, of course, there is the river – and it isn’t surprising to see people of all ages on the bank with fishing equipment in play. It has been a pleasure for me to move into this neighborhood, a sort of commons, to be enjoyed by people of all ages. The skateboard park is a community asset, rather than a liability in this context. 

Our community has responded to groups wanting a place for kids and adults to play hockey, soccer, baseball and other active sports. The Skateboard Coalition has been asking for a permanent park for over 5 years! They have been patient and persistent. Some of the earlier advocates are out of college by now! It is high time that as a community we support the PRAB’s well thought-out and long overdue recommendation when it goes to the city council. Located in the center of Northfield, the recommended location will reduce the noise element for residents in the area, and it will further the goal of providing an inclusive, community amenity, Riverside Park.  Just as we’ve done for other active Northfield citizens, we owe it to our youth to provide a permanent place for those who enjoy skate boarding to practice and improve their skills!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Bill McGrath November 20, 2012 at 02:52 PM
As a longtime resident of the Riverside Park neighborhood, I wholeheartedly agree with Jane McWilliams: Skateboarding belongs in that park. If in the future, if the skateboard park turns into a nuisance, we will burn that bridge when we come to it.
Jen Schwartz November 20, 2012 at 03:49 PM
I absolutely agree with this! Also a Riverside park area resident, my family and I have noticed only polite, respectful behavior from these kids and it is high time we show them some respect back. It's time to get the skateboard park built and I think Riverside is ideal.
Madelyn Hartke November 20, 2012 at 11:40 PM
Well said!
Madelyn Hartke November 20, 2012 at 11:53 PM
I expect the city to keep both the Union of Youth and Skateboard Coalition involved throughout the process of redesigning and building the skate plaza! We don't want non-skaters designing structures that aren't actually skate-able. Especially after all this time, it should be done WELL.
Rachel Woldum November 21, 2012 at 12:09 AM
Jane - Thanks so much for your thoughtful article and positive feedback! It is so nice to hear some encouraging words!
Zach Pruitt November 22, 2012 at 05:37 AM
As always, Jane, you are so thoughtful and insightful. Thank you for sharing this important viewpoint.
Tiffany Peterson November 23, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Yes! We should support ALL Northfield youth. Let's design a great park and view it as something positive for Northfield.
Rosalee November 26, 2012 at 09:46 PM
Jane: Well-done!!. Riverside Park is a fine asset. It's good to see the variety of ways it is used by many different groups holding concerts, weddings at the Pergola and the Car Show during DJJD. Northfield was named in the top 100 communities as a good place to raise children. Let's support ALL the young people..

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