I urge support for Article 13, Skatepark funding.
The emotional arguments against a skatepark are reminiscent of arguments against dance halls in the 30’s, pool tables in the 40’s and bowling alleys in the 50’s. Kids are going to hang out somewhere. In my neighborhood, it was a 6′ plywood pool table in our basement; mom and dad upstairs; not exactly supervised, but ever-present. A skatepark is a relatively contained area more easily supervised than a dead-end dirt road in the woods.
Dozens of time, I accompanied my 6- and 4-year-old grandchildren to a skatepark in their home town. They rode three-wheeled scooters with handles and bicycles with training wheels. There was no drinking, drugs, bullying or disrespectful language. The older, and sometimes much older, kids were supportive, encouraging and careful of the young ones in their midst. The hierarchy among the kids was based on the most skilled for their age not on the biggest or strongest.
The Boy’s and Girl’s Club, told me that their members-only indoor skatepark is a good reason the older kids remain in the Club. Questioned kids skateboarding through the intersection at Elliot onto Main have told me they used to go to the B&G Club and would go now, but they aged out.
Skateboarding is the snowless version of snowboarding. Professional snowboarders skateboard offseason to keep up their skills. There are dozens of mini skateparks in Dummerston, and Putney where big yards and industrious families build them in their driveways. Renters and apartment dwelling kids don’t have that option and that’s why there’s a need for this public park feature.
With a growing concern about childhood obesity, and its health risks among the young, skateparks are exercise on steroids. There are 644,000,000 U.S. skateboarders. Healthclubs, (of which there are 18 within 2 miles of downtown and which cost money to join and not always kid friendly), have 572,500,00 members; 11% fewer than skateboarders. This doesn’t count the skatepark’s suitability for BMX bikers. My niece’s boyfriend, not my first choice for her, earns almost six figures at age 19 in BMX sponsorships. Who would have guessed?
I will not fall into the trap that some other expenditure must be cut to afford this request. Nevertheless, I will say the additional sidewalk snow plow for $140,000 would fund 7 skateparks, the $950,000 firetruck would fund 47 skateparks, and its $115,000 interest payments on borrowing another 5+ skateparks.
The Town is willing to spend $146,000 (annually?) for human service, but questions arise about spending $20,000 and avoid potentially increasing the need for human services in the future.
I ask again for your support for this .00001% part of the 2019 General Fund.