Editorial

Where is SLO’s skate park?

City has made substantial investments to support other outdoor activities — we urge the council to deliver as soon as possible

letters@thetribunenews.comJanuary 17, 2013 

Skateboarding is not a crime. Nor is it a passing fad that will disappear in five or 10 years. So why is it taking so long for the city of SLO to provide a decent skate park?

Weather-wise, this is an ideal location, and judging by the number of skate shops, skate camps and competitions in the Central Coast region, there’s plenty of interest in skating — yet not many (legal) opportunities to skate in downtown SLO.

The city is, however, a mecca for many other outdoor activities — cycling, running, hiking and soccer — and the city has made substantial investments to ensure there are hiking trails, ball fields and bike and pedestrian paths for those activities.

Yet skaters have made do with a small space at Santa Rosa Park that’s outfitted with aging modular equipment. According to testimony at the council’s recent goal-setting hearing, the equipment has deteriorated to the point where it’s damaging skateboards.

To the city’s credit, it does have a plan on the books for a much larger, concrete skate park that will cost in the neighborhood of $2 million.

That’s a daunting price tag, but here’s the good news: The city already has budgeted nearly $1 million, which includes a grant from the Tony Hawk Foundation.

We strongly urge the city — along with the private sector — to make it a priority to raise the remaining $1 million as quickly as possible so this project can move forward.

If that means making the skate park a priority during the city’s current goal-setting process, so be it.

After all, much smaller communities — Grover Beach is one example — have concrete skate parks. Why not SLO?

With a larger, better-equipped skate park, the city could take advantage of opportunities to host competitions and exhibitions that would draw participants from out of the area, much as cycling and running events.

More importantly, building a new park would send a message of support and inclusion to a community of young people who, year after year, have heard their requests go unanswered.

Bottom line: We recognize that there are many demands on the city during this goal-setting process. Most of those are worthy requests that we fully support.

But we believe that providing young people with safe places to gather and recreate — whether they’re swimmers, soccer players or skaters — is an investment in the future, and deserves to be high on the city’s list of priorities.

We strongly urge the City Council to find a way to deliver a new skate park as soon as possible.

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