Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Keeping Our Balance on Boards

As the recent article about skateboarding in the Tacoma Daily Index relates, long-delayed talk between skaters and downtown property owners is occurring at last. While there are very real concerns on both sides of this discussion, there is reason to hope that progress will result.

Skateboarding is becoming a major leisure time activity across the nation--one that seeks expression in urban environments. The young people that our marketing efforts have sought to woo downtown are often coming here with a board under their arms. In the continuing battle for market share, this seems to be a demographic slice--one of the few naturally drawn downtown--too valuable to ignore.

Locally, skaters have impressed many City officials with their creative ideas and energy--so much so that reinstating the long-term ban two years ago seems to have become politically impossible. Advocates like Peter Whitley have initiated demonstration projects that show how skateboarding might be responsibly (apparently not an oxymoron) pursued, and Metro Parks has earmarked funding to support creation of new parks that can utilize the techniques when they prove to be effective.

That isn't to say that downtown property owners don't have legitimate concerns--they do. One major new structure downtown has suffered more than $90,000 in damages from skateboarders during the past year. Whitley and others offer what they believe to be creative solutions to problem usage, but will their ideas really work?

Despite these and other questions, skateboarders and other downtown stakeholders are beginning to realize that they need to work together. A discussion earlier this month at the BIA's Security Advisory Committee laid out issues, potential solutions, and began what we hope will be a continuing--and productive--dialogue.

Thursday's release luncheon will present (among other reports) Peter Whitley and Judee Encinias to recap that BIA discussion.


  1. Anonymous10:53 PM

    The people behind Tacoma's skatepark advocacy realize how lucky they are to live in a city...in a community...that is receptive to skateboarders' needs. It's uncommon and is apparently setting precidents that others cities like ours are looking at.

    Although it seems like a mere gesture, the removal of the anti-skateboarding devices at Thea's Park last year has created pivotal enthusiasm for skateboarders in cities across the nation. I frequently get requests and phone calls from skateboarders and newspapers in other states for some words on "the Tacoma story."

    For skaters in particular, Thea's Park is evidence that decision makers ARE willing to listen to skaters if the skaters speak. And we know they are out there; everywhere there are cities struggling with "undesignated" skateboarding. Many, maybe most, react with the same response a vandal or car prowler might receive. After more than a decade we are still waiting for a success story from those methods.

    Tacoma IS a success story and people are paying attention. We, Tacoma skateboarders, owe it to our visionary parks department and city leaders. We appreciate your trust.

  2. Anonymous10:55 PM

    Sorry for the typos. Spelling is not one of my strengths; frontside bonelesses are.

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