For safety’s sake, we need a skatepark

Saint Patrick may become the patron saint of skateboarders here in Bremerton.

On Saint Patrick’s Day, the Bremerton City Council unanimously approved a $44,000 bill to hire Miles Yanick and Co. to design a skateboarding park in Eastpark.

The city still needs $180,000 to get the project rolling.

So far, the Bremerton Central Lions has donated $25,000 to fund the project, and the city of Bremerton’s Community Development Block Grant funding committee has allocated $95,000 more.

The simple fact of the matter is that skateboarders need a place to skate. Skateboarding is a healthy, active pastime and in this day and age when most teenagers would rather be watching television or parked in front of a computer, we need to encourage any child or teen who wants to do something active.

According to a recent study in “Pediatrics,” a pediatrician newsletter, childhood obesity rates have doubled since the early 1980s and more than 15 percent of children 6-19 are considered obese.

In light of these statistics, the adults in the community should be rallying around the idea of getting a skatepark in the city.

For one thing, it would allow those children who want to skateboard a safe atmosphere where they wouldn’t have to worry about an obstacle not being structurally sound or having to deal with car traffic.

It also would decrease damages skateboarders do to parking lots, curbs and stairs in the community. If skateboarders have a place to skateboard, they don’t have to behave like outlaws to partake in their sport.

Lisa Gordon, a social studies teacher at Bremerton High School, is helping some high school-aged skateboarders find their political voice through a group called Bremerton Skaters and Supporters United. The BSSU is not a school-sponsored club.

“There is a huge need for a park. There are a lot of skateboarders out there,” she said. “They are skating in the streets in very unsafe areas. Part of the thrill of street skating, which is one style of skating, is to be able to skate the elements which are more challenging in the form of stairs or and rails. That’s not where we want them. We want them in the parks where it’s safe.”

At the City Council meeting on March 17, Bremerton Parks and Recreation Director Jim Spencer lauded BSSU and agreed there is a definite need in the city for a skatepark.

Once the facility is built, it will likely be made of concrete and will include swooping turns and bowl-like sections, with a total build price tag of $300,000.

Community groups need to support this idea with enthusiasm and funding.

For safety’s sake, we need a skatepark in Bremerton.

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