Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Woodside Skate Spot: Is it On?

The Penguin says it's on. She says that Parks says so. But in the comments section of the blog post, Citizens Advisory Board member Casey Anderson said not so fast, and that "the parks department staff indicated that they will not move forward if the neighboring residents oppose it." She also references a letter that Woodside Civic Association sent to Parks on November 9th, "...expressing our opposition until we can get answers to our concerns about how the facility will be designed and implemented."

I've seen that letter. It's scary. It's a 5 page document with requests for a level of detail that Parks can't possibly provide. There are also incorrect assumptions as well as demands for information that WCA could easily have gotten at the November 4th meeting.

Here's one incorrect assumption, from their letter (emphasis is mine):

6. Many Woodside residents feel this proposal is an attempt to move teenagers from downtown to the neighborhood. There was an interim skating facility right on Ellsworth near City Place prior to the commencement of the 2nd phase of the Downtown Silver Spring project. Skateboarders want to be where the action is. A Parks representative incorrectly identified the Woodside Park as being located within the CBD. The Silver Spring Urban District boundary ends at Spring Street. Why is there not a focus on finding a location for this in the CBD?
Yes, skateboarders DO want to be where the action is -- skateboarding action. One of the skateparks most favored by skateboarders, is frequented by almost no one who doesn't skate. It's situated near railroad tracks, warehouses, and several homes. But there is no action going on there other than skateboarding. We love it there. We don't need any more action.

Regarding information that could easily have been obtained at the November 4th meeting (or immediately after), WCA's letter brought up the question of whether or not there would be adult supervision at the park:

Please provide information on the experience at other facilities along with any contact information you may have for people familiar with their operations or for parents of skaters or adult skaters who may be willing to monitor and supervise skating activity at the park. information for people familiar with other skating facilities and their operations. That would be me, and at least two of the other adult skaters who were present at that meeting. I would have been happy to answer any questions about that and to give my contact information to anyone who asked. No one asked.

I'm an adult skater and I've been a Silver Spring mom for 20 years. I stated clearly (at least twice), my intention to be very present at the skatepark. I even stated that I would love to be hired as a manager of the park. (And lest anyone think I'm pushing for this park so I can get a paycheck out of it), I emphasized that it doesn't matter who they hire, but that it might be a good idea for the park to have an on-site manager. With neighbors who are this fearful of having skateboarders in their community, it just seems like a logical thing to do.

Two of the other adult skaters at that meeting are extremely dedicated to skateboarding and skateboarders, and they've both been skating for many years. The three of us know virtually all of the local skaters, and as I mentioned, we all plan to spend a lot of time at that park.

Those guys have so much experience between them that there is no question about skatepark operations they can't answer. When I spoke at the meeting I pointed them out as examples of other adult skaters who would be involved with the park. One of them, Jimmy Pelletier, (who's been skating for 20 years), got up and spoke in response to comments from a Woodside resident. But other than a question about Freedom Plaza (which is not a skatepark), I'm not aware of any Woodside residents directing any questions to him, either during or after the meeting.

WCA says that Parks didn't answer many of their questions at the November 4th meeting. I'm saying many of their questions were never even asked. Had they been asked, there were people there who would have been happy to answer them.

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