Category Archives: Skatepark

Why don’t we have a skatepark?

This morning, I was sitting in my car and looking at the field beside Asylum that’s being transformed into more ballfields. It’s a good spot for some fields. I have no problem with them.

But it got me thinking about how decisions get made about what to fund and what to ignore.

I assume that Little League and other organized groups pushed for more fields because they’re needed. I’ll give them that. Politicians feel the pressure and respond, recognizing that many hundreds of votes could be lost or won by approving fields.

So how do you ever get a skatepark?

Skateboarders are numerous, but not organized. They have few adults who will lobby for them or help them raise money. They have nothing but a need.

The town, of course, brushed that need aside in favor of golf courses, ballfields and even a mini-golf course that it hopes to make money on (boy, I know I feel pretty good hearing that my town government is getting into the Putt-Putt business – maybe a town pawn shop is next?).

My concern, put a little more directly, is that politicians put our efforts and our money behind projects that clearly please voters, such as these ballfields. They don’t see — because there’s no organized way to make them see — that other projects, from skateparks to putting nets on the basketball courts at our schools, will also benefit a lot of people, maybe even people who need the help more.

I really think that one big test these days of whether a town government is looking after its residents is whether it has a decent skatepark or two for its young people to use.

I hope our town officials will think about the choices they’re making. 

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Filed under ballfields, baseball, Parks, Skatepark, Town government

Lame skatepark story in the Advocate

Putting is such sweet sorrow.

It’s nice to see some attention focused on this issue, but, really, is this claptrap our alternative news?

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Filed under Hartford Advocate, News, Recreation, Skatepark, Town government

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

Build them a skatepark

Poking around on Facebook this morning, which is kind of fun, I stumbled across a group of West Hartford youngsters who have formed a group called “Build Us a Skatepark.”

They say that West Hartford “needs somewhere to skate locally without fear of police officers coming to ‘clean up the streets’ and where kids can skate “without fear of people assuming that we’re there to cause havoc.”

“Build Us a Skatepark is a grass roots organization for the development of a free, skater aproved, unsupervised skatepark in a central location through lawful lobbying,” its site on Facebook says.

To find out more, sign the petition the group has or to help with fundraising, contact its organizer at I_LIKE_MUSIC@mac.com.

If I got back on a skateboard, I’d be looking for a good orthopedic surgeon before long, but I am totally sympathetic to what these youngsters want. In fact, I’m trying to understand why we’re about to spend $300,000 on a mini-golf course when we don’t even have a skatepark in town. There’s something seriously messed up about that. And I would use the min-golf course, probably, so it’s in my selfish interest to favor Putt-Putt.

But skateboarders, trick bikers and the like deserve our help, not our scorn. This is a project that ought to be done quickly, not slowly. Let’s get it going and do right by these kids. 

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Filed under Entertainment, News, Parks, Politics, Recreation, Skatepark, Town government