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Bartleby the Scrivener vegan27
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skateboarding is x-treme. dude.
Yesterday afternoon I attended another meeting about the redesign of Roosevelt Park, which focused entirely on the proposed skate plaza. I do not oppose a skate plaza in Roosevelt Park. I *am* a grumpy old man, but I don't view skateboarders as some kind of thugs. They seem pretty benign.

Having said that, though, there is just something so incredibly bizarre about the whole idea. How did it come to be that the overriding theme of this park will be--of all things!--skateboarding? Phil Cooley claims that "a survey went out" to "the community", and that people wanted a place to skateboard. I really, really, really, really, really doubt that. Have any of your neighbors participated in that survey?

The meeting began with a PowerPoint presentation of statistics showing how safe and popular skateboarding is, according to pro-skateboarding organizations. It was kind of like getting your information on the health effects of bacon from the National Pork Producers Council. A flier was distributed on "10 Skateboarding Myths", which included:
#2. Skaters area small percentage of our community.
Skateboarding is one of the fastest growing sports in the U.S. and has surpassed baseball and football as the healthy activity of choice. There are about 13-million skateboarders in the U.S. with a 10% annual increase in participation during the previous 3 years. Skateboarding is here to stay.

A note on the back of the flier indicates:
Sporting Goods Manufactuerers Association (SGMA) Sports Participation Topline Report, 2002, shows that skateboarding enjoyed a 14.4% growth between 1987 and 2001 while baseball and football are in decline, with -24.5% and -17.8% respectively.

I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they weren't using ten-year-old statistics on purpose. The most recent data indicate that skateboarding isn't growing at all, but is sort of doing the opposite thing:

This is according to the Outdoor Recreation Participation Topline Report 2011, which you can read here (PDF). They also provide data for the last five years in a separate table, covering all ages six and up:

Since 2001, skateboarding has fallen from 13 million participants to 6.8 million--almost a 50% decline! I'm not saying that this makes skateboarding an illegitimate sport. I just expect more up-to-date information. Something close to the 13 million citation was apparently extrapolated to estimate the number of Detroit resident skateboarders at 34,500, but the more up-to-date number would give us only 16,600. But that's only if skateboarders are evenly distributed geographically, and if Detroit matches the U.S. overall demographically. Which it doesn't.

That kind of brings me to my next point. I'm totally fine with something designed to bring people to the neighborhood from outside of the area. But for some reason, the skate park is instead presented as something that will be used primarily by city residents. Why not just be honest and say you want to bring suburbanites into the city? Not only is that okay, it's necessary to repopulate the city. Just be honest, that's all. (After the meeting I saw a lot of the "local skaters" get into their automobiles to drive home. I'm not sure if I ever actually saw any skateboards that day. But then again, it was 100 degrees at the time.)

The meeting broke out into discussion groups. When the general meeting resumed, one speaker said that her group seemed to consist of more "hardcore" skaters, and that their views seemed to differ with the skate park plans in a couple of ways. The current plans call for "skating elements" to be scattered all throughout the park, but these skaters were suggesting that keeping the skate-related activity to one section of the park might not actually be a bad idea after all. Phil Cooley reacted with the same defensiveness he displayed in the last meeting. "This is the first time they're telling us," he replied. One skater said that "it might be against my best interests" to say this, but he was skeptical when the flier I mentioned before stated that a skate park produces the same amount of noise as two people talking. He mentioned how loudly a skateboard cracks on the ground when such-and-such a trick isn't performed right. "That's a myth. They disproved that," was Mr. Cooley's reply.

That noise statistic mentioned on the flier was from Portland, Oregon's Noise Control Office, which reported that ambient noise in its skateparks was 52 decibels, while an average conversation generates 59-63 decibels. That reading was reported by Noise Control Officer Paul Van Orden--a former professional skateboarder.

Although I never really opposed the skate park, I *am* relieved that the preliminary drawings of skating elements that spell out "Roosevelt Park" will not actually be built. I did not like them. The architect's attempt at subliminal advertising did not work on me.

Holy cow! Triathlon is sky rocketing! How about they build a public pool? Triathletes like pools.