A Skatepark in Boonville? – Anderson Valley Announcer
Some of you have probably read the article in the newspaper last week written by Noor Dawood “Help bring a skate park to Anderson Valley”. I met Noor when she first came to Anderson Valley and had an office next door to mine when she was the after school program director and I was the school community liaison . I know she understands teenagers well and is a fair and strong advocate for their best interests. Now the mother of two young boys (with her husband, audiovisual teacher, Nat Corey-Moran), she is also looking to their future. We talked at length about the Skate Park project. She told me that the discussion of creating a park goes back to Jerry Cox and Nat discussing it 15 years ago. She also told me that skateboarding has been an Olympic sport since 2020!
As a non-athlete all my life, my interest in skate parks wasn’t high and I wasn’t very into it, but she really transformed me. There are so many good reasons to offer a Skate Park to the children of this valley and I want to share some of them with you. Noor suggested I contact young people for feedback and a young man, Ernesto Macias, sent me such thoughtful responses to my questions that I’ll start by letting you read what he has to say on the subject of the Skate Park .
Question #1 – How would the Skate Park personally affect your life?
“The proposed skate park will affect me because I will finally have a place where I can skate and not worry about being kicked out. When I was younger, I didn’t mind getting kicked out of skate spots because I thought it came with the sport. Now, as an adult, the thought of being kicked out of a place to skateboard just seems embarrassing. Luckily I can drive to real skateparks since I have a license, but there isn’t much time in the day and we live about 45 minutes from the nearest skatepark. Also, gas is not cheap!
Question #2 – What are the qualities that make a Skate Park particularly valuable?
“The quality of a skate park that makes it valuable for young people is that it gives them a place where they can be free. Skateboarding is one of the few activities where no one dictates what they have to or shouldn’t do. They grow at their own pace; there’s no grade for that, and everyone has their own style. Even school sports don’t have the same accessibility. If they’re not enough well, they spend the whole season on the bench or get kicked off the team. That doesn’t happen in a skate park.
Question #3 – How do you think having a Skate Park will improve life in Anderson Valley?
“I think having a skatepark in Anderson Valley will improve the life of the town in the sense that it can unite us. For being such a small town, there’s not a lot of community. There are a few events that make stand out from large parts of the city, but even then most people don’t know each other. Building this skatepark will take a community effort. It will be something we all need to help build and maintain. Skateparks are the place to be. “one of the few things to build that everyone can enjoy. They often lead to much more than just skateboarding. They become a community center where many events can take place, such as art galleries, music events, pop-up shops, family reunions, etc. Building this skate park has the potential to bring back the sense of community that our little town desperately needs.”
Question #4 – (See the end of this article.)
If you’re interested in what kids think of the Skate Park idea, you can see them talking for themselves on the well-constructed project’s website designed by Kellie Crisman at avskatepark.org. One point they all seem to make is that they enjoy skateboarding and are currently skating wherever they can find a likely spot. One interviewee on the website said, “If you don’t have a skatepark in your city, then your city is a skatepark.” This can lead to highway skateboarding around traffic, over concrete curbs and ledges that can chip, and over gravel where spills lead to injury.
Positive aspects of a Skate Park include providing a non-competitive, non-judgmental space for children to test their limits. Skateboarding is challenging and promotes perseverance and humility (everyone remembers their first day of skating and the spills they suffered). Additionally, the parks foster the camaraderie of sharing a challenge and learning from each other while welcoming new skaters. All of this happens outside, in the fresh air, while young muscles have a chance to develop and coordinate better. A skater mom observed that for children who have been roughed up in life, it is a source of energy for a difficult upbringing. A safe place and a place to build a positive identity. In short, a good way to keep children out of trouble.
As for the service-learning team, they learned to speak in front of groups of people in public and learned to listen to and respect differing opinions. They sat through long meetings to get to the room they were interested in learning patience. They have learned to put together a compelling body of information. More importantly, they have learned that they can make a difference. For Noor, this is the big reward, what the children have learned.
Of particular interest on the website is the story and video of what happened at Laytonville in their process of building “The Little Skate Park That Could”. Other cities that have parks are Ukiah, Willits, Healdsburg, Sebastopol, Santa Rosa, and Fort Bragg. Many of people’s concerns about a park’s local impact have been answered through these already existing parks. In general, the positives outweigh the negatives by nine to one. When asked if skate parks attract unwanted behavior, it was noted that they actually do the opposite by encouraging people of all ages to engage in healthy activity… The proposed skate park location in the community park near the health clinic is a highly visible open area. unattractive for sketchy or illegal activities. The lack of such space encourages young people to “hang out” in less visible places (such as under bridges or in empty houses or cars).
This project was originally initiated by AV Jr./Sr. High Service Learning Team (SLT) a group of students dedicated to improving our community. On this project, they are working with the Community Services Parks and Recreation Committee which acts as a fiscal sponsor. A community planning group is also formed to help guide the process. An open community meeting will also take place.
It seems that Anderson Valley needs more public spaces for recreation and community development, especially for children. The goal of building the Skate Park is to help fill that need and encourage young AVs to be more active and form healthy connections. Skateboarding, rollerblading, cycling and scootering will all be welcome and are all good physical and mental outlets. Funding for the project will come from fundraising and grant writing. There are several opportunities for large grants, but ownership of the land is a prerequisite to claiming this money. You can make a donation on the site.
What about liability? California regulations grant immunity to public institutions housing Skate Parks as long as a local ordinance is passed establishing safety rules and those rules are publicly published.
What can you do to support the Park?
Visit the avskatepark.org website to find out. On the website you can sign a petition, make a donation and find out about current activities. Service Learning Coordinator Noor Dawood can be contacted at: [email protected]
More immediately and urgently, you can plan to attend the school council meeting on November 8 at 5:00 p.m. at the high school library. This will be THE chance for community supporters to express their opinion on the Skate Park. The reason the school board is involved is a draft agreement to transfer the land needed to build the park to the school that currently owns the property. As Ernesto replied to:
Question #4- If you wanted to convince someone to support the Skate Park – to vote in favor of its construction, what would you say to them?
“Older generations always talk about being concerned about the direction of young people or the community. Even so, many rarely do anything to help because they don’t know how to do it. Well, here’s the perfect opportunity for them to help out. For this to work, we all have to come together.
ANDERSON VALLEY NEEDS MORE VIBRANT PUBLIC SPACES for people to come together and be active, especially for our teens.
The students of the Audio Visual Service Learning Team are partnering with the Community Service District to meet this need by developing a skatepark in Boonville – and we’re going to make it happen!
Please see our new website for more details: avskatepark.org
Want to help? Sign the petition
Show up at the AVUSD School Board meeting on Tuesday, 8/11, 5:30 p.m. – This one is big!!! See website for more details.
Spread the word!
— Noor Dawood, on behalf of the Service Learning Team, Anderson Valley Adult School, office: 707-895-2953