Friday, November 27, 2009

Skaters for Public Skateparks: Response to Just Up The Pike

In response to Dan Reed's phenomenal post the case for a downtown skatepark (this time, with numbers), Publishing Director of Skaters for Public Skateparks Peter Whitley, commented on that blog post, making the point that "skate spots" are not meant to replace skateparks, but to augment them:
I was thrilled to see Skaters for Public Skateparks' material used so effectively. As the co-author, along with Kent Dahlgren and Miki Vuckovich (both of whom are with Tony Hawk Foundation, though Kent was SPS' founding Director) we couldn't be more delighted to see this information being used exactly how we intended.

When we began talking to communities about "skate spots" a few years ago we were concerned that some would see them as the "perfect solution" to their skatepark needs. While the idea of augmenting the neighborhood skateparks with satellite facilities is fundamentally sound, many budget-minded bureaucrats see the skate spot as a "miniature skatepark." They're not. They are meant to extend a skatepark's level of service into isolated or underserved pockets...NOT as a bedrock facility for a whole community.

What may happen is that the skate spot fails due to over-use; a victim of its own success. In their enthusiasm to use the spot, the skaters may spill out to the nearby parking lots or simply move back to those inappropriate spots that are popular now.

That can lead to two public reactions:

1. "Look at all those skaters trashing up the place. They don't deserve a better skatepark."

2. "The skaters are STILL skating on my ledges! That new skatepark apparently doesn't help at all!"

The losers here are the very people the skate spot was meant to benefit. The solution is for the local advocates to continue to push for a long-term plan that acknowledges the community need and sets into motion plans for meeting it. Thankfully you guys have some AWESOME advocates on that task.

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