Speaking Truth to Power – Fighting for a new skate park.
Just another little update… in my home town of Wilsonville, last week, there was a trio of letters written to our local paper fighting the construction of a new skate park in Wilsonville. The arguments were rather old, worn out, and some of them had holes in them:
- “Skateboarding is a fad” – It’s about 40 years old
- “Our existing park is just fine” – It’s two quarter-pipes with a single rail and contains copious amounts of wood, which needs to be replaced every few years
- “Skate parks attract gang members, drug dealers, and other riff-raff” – Our current skate park is in a somewhat secluded portion of Memorial Park at the bottom of a hill, so it doesn’t get patrolled by police very often, so drug dealers and gang members would feel more safe there. The new site is by city hall and the police station, which would make it very visible to police and the general public. Unless, by riff-raff, I mean teenagers, in which case I can’t help you.
- “A swimming pool would be a better investment.” – Well, we’ve got the Living Enrichment Center – no, they closed because the head of the center was embezzling money and defrauding her congregation. There’s Bally’s – you need a membership and I think it’s an outdoor pool anyway. Well, crap, you got me there.
So, with these arguements in mind, I wrote an letter for the Wilsonville Spokesman, and my mother, who was similarly annoyed by the letters in the Oregonian, wrote one of her own as well. Mom’s didn’t get published. Mine did.
Now, my letter won’t be visible next week Wednesday on the site, because they’ll have that week’s letters, so I’m putting the full text below the cut.
New skateboard park is a good idea for Wilsonville
Skateboarding is not a fad. It’s been around since the mid ‘60s-early ‘70s, and first reached a point where you could start dismissing it as a fad in the very late ‘80s and early ‘90s. If you’re going to dismiss sports as fad based on how well you can turn it into a professional career, then you might as well have the school district re-task the money it’s spending on track-and-field, wrestling, soccer, and lacrosse to other sports.
If you have any doubt of my claims about skateboarding, there’s a documentary called “Dogtown and Z-Boys” available to rent, or at the library. It will give you some information about what could be described as the “Bad Old Days” of the sport, before it became mainstream, as it is today.
Also, there is money to be made for local business with a decent skate park. There are several local skateboarding tournaments, some of which, like the Oregon Trifecta, are affiliated with international skateboarding circuits. It has a $20,000 purse and hundreds, if not thousands of skateboarding fans coming to watch, as well as members of the extreme sports press coming to cover the event. That doesn’t include the participants, who may be coming from out-of-state.
Wilsonville’s current skate park has precisely no chance of ever hosting such an event, and thus bringing all those people’s money to Wilsonville, not to mention the people who see Wilsonville in the news coverage and decide to come visit our fair city.
Similarly, when you look at Wilsonville’s skate park through www.skateoregon.com, which has pictures of basically every skate park in the state of Oregon, it looks downright pathetic next to the skate parks in Tigard, Tualatin, and West Linn.
I find it unfortunate that members of Wilsonville’s Chamber of Commerce believe that we’re too good for tourist dollars, aside from people coming to town for business reasons or stopping to stretch their legs when they’re coming north or south on I-5.
One letter writer stated that a skate park is currently a congregating place for gang members and drug dealers. Well, it’s in Memorial Park, at practically the bottom of the park, with one way in by car, and one way out. If we had a skate park next to city hall and literally a stone’s throw from the police station, the amount of gang activity at the skate park would decrease drastically. And, if the skate park was better designed than the existing park with rails, a bowl, a proper half pipe, maybe even a tube, Wilsonville skateboarders would choose that park over the existing park hands down, even if police were going past the park more regularly.
It’s not the best piece of writing I’ve done – those have probably been on here or at Bureau42. I had to make some major cuts to it to make it fit the Spokesman’s 500 word limit, cuts that I feel hurt the letter, but I hope preserved its message. Nonetheless, the letter is, I think, point struck in favor of a new skate park, one of, I hope, many to follow.