It’s a culture immersed in graffiti, grit and elbow gashes. And that image scares people.
Skateboarding is not mainstream and for the majority of those who partake in the sport, that’s just the way they like it. It’s unstructured and free. It’s dangerous and takes a great deal of courage. It comes from the street and it thrives on the hard concrete.
Last Thursday night in the Rosemont elementary school gym, the final chapter in the Nelson outdoor skatepark saga started to be written. After a presentation from New Line Skateparks president Kyle Dion wrapped, there was applause from the crowd of about 40 that had gathered.
The outpouring was a thumbs-up to the final design of the facility that will be built in Art Gibbon Park. But it was also a gesture of relief to those who have worked so hard to make it reality. It hasn’t been easy.
The primary thorn in the ten-plus year struggle to get this staple of community recreation built has been NIMBYism. The not-in-my-backyard sentiment raised when the word “skatepark” is presented is strong. That knee-jerk reaction to push skateboarders away comes from the fear folks have of the aforementioned grit the sport encapsulates.
Today’s story should help quell those fears.
After the meeting, the Star interviewed 16-year-old Josh Sullivan. He was one of nine or ten youth who showed up to the meeting. Sullivan is a well-spoken and thoughtful young man. For those who fear skateboarding, he should be the face of the sport. A young guy who has a passion for the freedom skateboarding provides. Respectful of his elders and thankful for what the community is doing for him and his friends.
We can only hope this final chapter has a happy ending. If all goes well, the shovels will be in the ground next month and skateboarders, bikers and all other users of the park will be taking their love for adrenalin to heights by summer.
If you’re afraid of joy, exercise and opportunity for our youth… then you might want to stay away from Art Gibbon Park.