Scotts Valley Skatepark

Skaters have been working very hard and raising money to build a skatepark in the now abandoned airstrip. The approved park plan is to build a 20K skatepark, a full sized soccer playing field, a parking lot for 190 cars, and keep the existing dog park. Soccer Coach Michelle Lee is circulating a petition to reduce the size of the skatepark to 12.5K in order to build more parking for soccer fans. Her petition, full in inaccuracies, was covered and linked in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, who has yet to print my letter.


Dear Mayor Barrett and Councilmembers:

I'm sure a lot of this has been hashed out in past meetings, but I could not help responding to soccer coach Michelle Lee's petition to reduce the size of the approved skatepark by half to make room for more than 190 cars for soccer fans. I highly doubt the city of Scotts Valley would want to spend another 20K to redesign the park, nor would the residents want such a huge impact of an army of traffic in their tiny city.

But, what concerns me is the bias, and the inaccuracies in her petition. It implies a large park would "likely draw a higher level of out-of-town undesirables incurring greater police costs and potentially higher crime." I asked the SC Police to run a one-year report on incidences at the current Fun Spot Skatepark. In the last year, only 3 reports were written in that area and didn't necessarily involve skaters. The report as interpreted by Jim Howes, a Community Service Police Officer, explained the incidences, which were minor, could have originated under the tressle, or on the street, or in a nearby parking lot. The address of the park includes all those areas. Police Chief Belcher appeared and testified at the final City Council meeting where the Santa Cruz Skatepark was unanimously approved, that there have been little or no problems at the skatepark since its creation. I wonder what a comparable report from the Watsonville Police on their soccer park would tell us.

How can Ms. Lee proclaim skateparks and skateboarders induce crime when we all are aware that soccer is now the number one world-wide crime and violence associated sport? I should note also at that same meeting, to our surprise, the Mayor and a Council member suggested Parks and Recreation consider a larger park than what was originally proposed by the skateboarders. A reduction in square footage of the SV park would more than likely result in the elimination of a beginners area. A smaller park would not bring fewer skaters, it would cause long lines of skaters waiting their turn. A 20K park is not oversized.

I consulted Heidi Lemmon of SPAUSA non-profit skatepark association who says... "20K as a private park is considered big, but as a public park it is not so big. It's an OK size but there probably won't be room for a beginner area and smaller parks are not as safe. We recommend 30K to cities but the truth is most parks opt for around 15K because of being money driven, but finding problems and wishing they had gone bigger in the beginning stages." Concrete maintenance is not an issue in relation to size of the park as in the same sense would be an issue with grass, water usage, and landscaping maintenance.

Ms. Lee also implies dog owners who visit the dog park "help the local economy." I've taken my dog there but it's only a 20-30 minute gig. We never leave our dogs unattended or in a car to shop or dine in Scotts Valley, however skateboarders will more than likely drop a few bucks at one of the many fast food establishments. Also she says skateboarding will be "intrusive and disruptive to the skypark center..." I can show you noise decible reports ranking soccer games very high on the list. Actually the dog park seriously should be moved farthest away from the soccer field due to the noise and commotion.

Ms. Lee's bias and prejudice she emits in her petition towards skaters is not acceptable. She is correct that perhaps extra policing will be necessary in the area to control any violence related with soccer fans, parents, and road rage. The petition gives a very wrong message to soccer kids and any kid in general as it implies one can be superior because of the sport they choose to participate in, whereas kids who choose skateboarding as their sport are criminals and "undesirable." It is not good for self esteem for a kid who skateboards to hear that he/she is undesirable and possibly a criminal. How would Ms. Lee classify a nice family with a soccer player, a skateboarder and a dog? I'll guarantee you skaters won't be leaving behind what the dogs will.

I strongly urge the Scotts Valley City Council to disreguard Ms. Lee's unfactual, prejudiced and discriminatory petition and insist that soccer enthusiasts look into carpooling or other alternative transportation to make the Skypark project work for all concerned. Thank you for listening, Clarkie Editor, Real Skate Online Magazine



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