Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Skateboarding and I

Improvised skateboarding ramp on Commerce Street, near Columbia Rotary Park. The kids are trying. Now, it's the borough's turn to help. (Click on pic for larger view.)

And now for the column that will forever label me tragically unhip.
Currently, skateboarding may rival bicycling as the new national pastime for youth, giving them a focus for energy that might otherwise be directed towards drug abuse and petty larceny. Although I'm not conversant with the intricacies of the sport, I marvel at some of the stunts I see on tv. I even know that the guy on the poster where I work is Tony Hawk, promoting the health benefits of milk, of all things.
Recently, I became a homeowner and had a new sidewalk and front porch installed. I had a feeling the long, sloping walkway adjoining my neighbors' properties would become a skateboarding haven and to my dismay was proven right. Often were the times I'd hear the gradual crescendo of the approaching skateboard, segueing into the inevitable nanosecond of silence, and finishing with a crash and a one-second scrape as skateboard and rider surfed along the front of my concrete porch, abrading its edge.
Whenever I've politely and repeatedly asked not to have my sidewalk and porch damaged, I've been confronted with an emphatic "Sorry" or an even more emphatic "F... you " accompanied by a finger gesture, or some platitude about skateboarding not being a crime. And in one respect, the kids are right: Skateboarding's not a crime, but property damage usually is. I do believe, however, that most skaters are good kids who just need a place to go and that any damage they cause is usually unintentional.
To alleviate such problems, and to give kids a place to go, I'm willing to have a small portion of my taxes go towards the construction of a skateboarding park or some other such facility in Columbia. Currently, the only facility skaters have is the makeshift one on Commerce Street, near the bridge, at the bottom of the Columbia Rotary Park. After seeing the improvised ramps made from random pieces of wood and old skids, I wonder about safety of this area. As far as I know, the borough has turned a blind eye; kids are allowed to skate there, but the borough won't invest any money, due to financial and liability issues, apparently.
But the time has come for the borough to "ante up." I'd even donate money for the cause, if skateboarders could get organized enough to make it happen, because I believe kids need a place to go and hang out--other than my front porch.

Other improvised equipment. (Click on pic for larger view.)

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