Letter: New skatepark for kids or adults?
It will be interesting to see if the new skateboard park [Hook March 7, 2013, article, "Pop-shove-it! Charlottesville skate park re-opens in McIntire] will be designed for the benefit of children or the ease of adults.
Across the nation and the world, municipalities who built low-cost concrete parks for the efficiency of parks departments' maintenance budgets and personnel, found that they were swiftly abandoned to become cement jungles. Will there be a concrete eye-sore abandoned in the middle of McIntire Park? Will it be a street park or a ramp park? Do city officials know the difference?
Here are the comparisons, through the eyes of children, between wood and concrete construction:
Injury- What child (or parent) would prefer skating on a surface with the knowledge that they could acquire severe lacerations, scrapes, bruises and even concussions or breaks from contacting such a brutal, unforgiving surface as concrete? By contrast, specially treated wood ramps and recycled plastic flooring mats allow for children’s mishaps–and there are multitudes while learning to skateboard–with pliable, giving surfaces.
Cost per child- Wheels last much longer on softer wood surfaces, allowing more diverse socioeconomic groups to partake in the sport. Then there is the cost of personal injury…..
Maintenance- Yes, it would cost less in the short run to pour concrete instead of replacing wood as it decays or chips over the years. In the long run, it is the children who will be suffering from the misguided decisions of adults and the city risks the abandonment issues sustained by other concrete facilities.
Performance- Anyone who skateboards, bikes or inline skates knows that the softer the surface, the more acceleration, the more enjoyable the sport.
Liability- Would there be an increase in injuries sustained by youths that would find the city in constant litigation or paying higher insurance premiums? You be the judge.
Open hours- Why are playgrounds open to the public without supervision and skateparks closed because of the need for constant paid personnel? It is a waste of taxpayer funds to build such a park and not have it be utilized when children are on school vacations, days off or during the hours that children normally partake of the sport.
Hopefully, the city will take into consideration all of these points with children’s health and well-being as well as the personal funds spent on equipment before designing the new park.