Skatepark moves onto town agenda

It’s funny how things go these days. A skater dude creates a Facebook group advocating that West Hartford build a skatepark. I see it there and mention it on this little blog. A Courant reporter sees it here, calls the kid and the mayor, and shazzam! It’s suddenly on the the town’s agenda.

I guess that’s new age democracy, and a good thing.

In the paper today, Mayor Scott Slifka sounds reasonably supportive of the idea. “We are very much in support of the concept,” Slifka told the Courant. “[There are] a number of questions that they could help us address, and then, really, it’s probably more a matter of when and not if.”

There’s no site in mind yet, but I’m sure everyone agrees it should be reasonably central. Perhaps Fernridge Park is the right spot.

This was my favorite line in the Courant story, because it let me know this blog is making a tiny difference: “Several park advocates said their push for a place for skaters grew stronger after the town’s recent decision to build a miniature golf course at Buena Vista Golf Course. The miniature course, which could open in about a year, will become a large revenue generator for the town, Slifka said.”

Yeah, that’s me they’re talking about.

But it was a little disturbing to read that the mini-golf course is intended as a large profit center. Since when are towns focused on making money. If there’s really such a great business opportunity, then where’s the private sector on this one? Oh, wait. I know. The private sector has to buy land and pay taxes. Government can do it all on the cheap.

What’s next? A West Hartford-owned fill-up station? A town-run Taco Bell? A Starbucks franchise owned by taxpayers in front of town hall? It’s a dangerous road to go down, however noble the rationale.

In any case, let’s get this skatepark done. It’s a simple project, badly needed, and it shows a commitment by the town to our future leaders. Build it quickly and build it well.

Don’t let the politicians skate by on this one.

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6 Comments

Filed under Media, News, Parks, Recreation, Skatepark, Town government

6 responses to “Skatepark moves onto town agenda

  1. Big Bank Hank

    You’re way off base here. There are aspects of the Town (of any town really) that generate revenue to offset other costs incurred by the Town. The prime example in our Town is Rockledge, which generates significant revenue, while at the same time being a fantastic recreational resource for our residents. Without it, a myriad of other recreational resources now offered free of charge simply would not be available. Parking fees, permit fees, speeding tickets, etc. also fit into the category of generating revenue, yet there is no concern that these sources of revenue are somehow inappropriate for a government to draw from. It’s simply just good business, and our Town’s approach to these sorts of issues only reinforces how well our Town government is run, particulary by professional staff. All you need to do is follow the budget process a bit more closely to see how all of these things fit together, rather than make silly analogies to government-run taco bells or starbucks. To call this a “dangerous road” is off base, fails to reflect the reality of what it takes to run a Town, and serves only to mislead those already looking for a reason to criticize town government.

  2. Generating revenue as a byproduct of offering much-needed services — from enforcing speeding laws to offering public parking – is a far cry from deliberately setting out to build a mini-golf course whose main purpose seems to be to make money.
    I don’t have a problem with Rockledge because even as it makes a profit, it offers discounted golf to residents who might otherwise have nowhere to play. It serves a public good.
    Mini-golf is hardly in the same league.
    I do have a problem spending $300K on a mini-golf course when something that’s genuinely needed, such as a skatepark, is ignored because it would cost a little money instead of turning a profit. Government has to be watchful for ways to hold down costs – and I’m grateful that West Hartford tries – but it also has to provide services we really need, not just ones that can pay for themselves.

  3. Lisa

    As far as location of the skatepark is concerned, what I do see at the other parks (where I spend a ridiculously large amount of time, sitting in the car reading War and Peace), are lots kids who are working out very hard. They get thirsty and hungry – pizza slices, drinks, ice cream, candy, chips, anything for some energy. Any vendors who can supply those things will be kept pretty busy if the skating/biking is any good!

  4. Big Bank Hank

    I think there is an unmet need for mini-golf in this Town. We must have mini-golf (in addition to newer/better looking recycling bins) if WH is to keep pace with other towns!

  5. RandN

    BBH – are you being sarcastic about the mini golf?

  6. Mary

    Big Bank Hank: Is that what you feel is priority, to keep “pace” with other towns? Whtfd has enough. How about putting some of that money into a large community effort, such as cleaning parks, or I don’t know….helping lower income families in town. You know, they DO exist…even in Whtfd.

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