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The group trying to bring a skatepark to Albion should be encouraged that the Dekko Foundation has given a $150,000 grant to a similar group doing the same job in Kendallville.

By all accounts, the Kendallville Skatepark Committee worked long and hard at various fund raisers, and their labor of love ultimately led to the grant. Here is clear evidence that the young people of the world can band together to make a difference, and if they can do it with a skatepark, they can do it with anything. There's no reason to think the skateboard fans of Albion, especially with this kind of encouragement, can't accomplish their goals.

Members of the Albion Town Council gave their own clear encouragement when a group of skateboard enthusiasts came to a Council meeting last month, seeking support for their effort. We (I'm on the Council – what were people thinking?) couldn't give financial support, but we did discuss various town properties the park could go on, and otherwise tried to encourage them in any way we could.

And why not? It is a sport, after all, even if it doesn't have its own team franchises (yet). I'd much rather see our kids out playing in the fresh air than sitting on their rears in front of a TV. Some people say skateboarding is an extreme sport, but it's no more extreme than what my brother and I used to do on our bicycles when I was a kid.

I'm not sure how much detail I can go into on that subject; there's a lot my parents never knew. I'm sure they suspected something was wrong the day we walked home with armloads of my little red Schwinn one-speed, but to their credit they let us go back out again the next day. As for my sudden haircut, all I can say is Ring of Fire – bad idea.

I miss my poor Schwinn … but alas, the only thing left was the seat.

Now, I've been wondering what else I can do to support this group of kids, who have every bit as much right to practice their sport as anyone else, as long as they don't damage property or trespass. (And if you think kids with basketballs can't damage property, you've never seen me try to play.) But what could I do? I have no money. I stink at going door to door. I'm too nervous to steal.

Then I remembered that the spokesperson for the skateboarders had mentioned that if the park came to being, she would give all of us on the Council our own skateboards.

I'm pretty sure I heard gasps of horror from the Council members.

As a group we're hardly cowards. Two of us are volunteer firefighters; one spent many years as a deputy sheriff; one is a Vietnam War veteran; and one is a mother and grandmother, making her perhaps the bravest of all. But we're no spring chickens.

Even when we were younger, I don't think any of us spent a lot of time standing upright on a tiny board, flying toward walls at twice the speed of sound. I did the wall thing, but I was sitting on a bike, which makes a world of difference. I never even officially broke a bone, and the wall's just fine.

That's when it hit me. An idea, I mean, not a wall. And so I'm here to make an official announcement: I accept the offer of the skateboard.

This is assuming I can, legally. But then what are they going to do – impeach me?

Now, here's the part that will start the donations flowing in. If the skatepark gets built, not only will I accept the skateboard – I'll ride it.

Don't look so surprised – I got onto a skateboard once. I can show you the scar.

That should have some entertainment value, right? Look at how popular those blooper home video shows are. Viewers love to watch people fall down, and if you put my on a skateboard, I'll do that a lot. I'll fall forward, backward, sideways. I'll bruise everything from butt to bunions.

You should know, however, that I am *not* going to do that rail thing. You know, the one where you slide the board down a railing? That's a recipe for doing the splits and crushing body parts I'd very much like to remain undamaged; if I wanted pain there, I'd go to bars and try to pick up women. You'll have to be satisfied with a simple concussion.

I expect I'll never get past the part that includes rolling across a flat surface, which in itself should suffice for several hours of fun, road rash inducing blooper reels. In fact, it'll probably be pretty funny just seeing me wearing a helmet, full pads, and every article of clothing I own.

But then, who knows? Maybe I'll pick up on the finer points of skateboarding. With a few months practice, I might learn to do complicated tricks, such as turning, or stopping. Or how to get going without a hill. Advanced stuff.

All I ask is that someone be standing by with a cell phone, and the ability to dial those three little numbers: 911. Sure, the paramedics will laugh at me, but I'll feebly hold out one hand in a thumbs up sign, and after that the crowd will be on my side.

If nothing else, my chiropractor will make some money on this.


Aug. 30th, 2007 11:27 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure if the rules will allow bikes in this case; we're looking at various scenerios for what will be allowed in the park, and when. I'm okay with it, but there's legalistic red tape to consider. But you're right, I'm much more comfortable on a bike, despite the scars. Unfortunately, it's the skateboard they'll be expecting to see me on.

If it happens, there will be plenty of photos, not to mention video! Of that you can be sure.
Aug. 30th, 2007 11:40 pm (UTC)
There's rules and there's what kids do. If BMX is the current trend, that's what will be at the skatepark regardless of the rules.

It might be worth bringing this up early before the local kids lose their park to the lawyers. I would hope that as long as the kids using the park have the appropriate safety gear and don't install that ex-military rocket on their bike, it should be cool, but if lawyers are involved, who knows.
Aug. 31st, 2007 12:11 am (UTC)
That rocket on the bike thing doesn't really work all that well; of course, ours weren't military grade. They did give a bit of a push, but nothing spectacular.

Interestingly, the way we're getting around insurance and legal concerns is to not police the skatepark at all. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but if we set the place up to be officially supervised, the liability insurance would have been too much. We'll be posting rules (to be determined), and that's it; it's up to the kids to police themselves, which they usually do quite well when given the chance. Basically, we post rules and hours, along with "skate at your own risk, and Don't Make Us Come Down There" ... and by so doing, our insurance doesn't shoot through the roof. Strange, I know.

I think basically what will happen is that if the kids want to bike down there nobody will tell them not to, as long as they don't do something stupid and get themselves into trouble. But if the lawyerly stuff doesn't allow bikes there, and somebody calls to complain, we'll have to chase them out. Then it'll be the BMX'ers turn to raise money to build a course! Luckily, we've got space to do that.
Aug. 31st, 2007 12:59 am (UTC)
Wow! Having the luxury of space for multiple parks is something that's unknown in my area. Lucky kids.
Sep. 1st, 2007 12:20 am (UTC)
Albion has an incredible park system. About 15 years ago we had a large piece of land donated to us on one side of town, and a few years ago the Park Director wheeled and dealed a sweet price on an adjoining property, giving us a relatively large untapped area to use for anything we like -- as long as it's recreation related, since we received a state grant toward that purpose. We don't have a lot of town money to put into it right now, but we've got the space for groups like this to work with.

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