We don’t know how far off the ground the latest effort to have a skate park in Greenfield will get, but we wish its backers well.
Undoubtedly, there are some large hurdles — accessibility, neighborhood compatibility, financing, oversight — to overcome. That’s not to say the idea of a skate park in Greenfield can’t become a reality. It just means that Benjamin Miner and his neighbors, Francesca and John Passiglia, have to see clearly what it’ll take to get one built and running, as they begin the process from the ground floor. We do think that the Facebook page, “Skate Greenfield,” created to connect with skateboarders and serve as a way for enthusiasts and their friends to network, is a great step in the right direction.
While this particular effort may be focused on building a skate park, perhaps, too, it can begin to shift public thinking on how skateboarding is perceived. Skateboarders are too often seen as outsiders or slackers, something that isn’t helped when vandalism occurs at or near the park, as it occasionally did when Greenfield’s former park and a car dealership were close neighbors. It’s also a fact that some skaters do damage to private property while practicing moves.
Yet this isn’t a true picture of what skateboarding is or what it can be.
Elsewhere in the country, skateboarding is seen in a different light. As Miner pointed out, Walla Walla, Wash., a city of 31,000, has two skate parks. Travel to California and you’ll see teenagers and older young people using their skateboards as a means of daily transportation.
For some, it’s even more convenient than bicycling since once you get to where you’re going, you don’t have to worry about parking and locking up the bike — you simply pick up the board and carry it with you.
Talk about an environmentally friendly form of transportation!
However, locally, those who use skateboards as their way of getting around Greenfield can face even more hostility than bicyclists from motorists while sharing the roads.
Let’s change this.
If Greenfield wants to be a leader in “going green,” then part of the equation should involve welcoming the use of skateboards, kick scooters and bicycles for personal transportation. This means adding lanes that they can use to get around town with ease and safely.
And it means improving the existing, but very limited, area bike paths.
It also means changing the thinking that would want to put a skate park in a place that faces accessibility issues.
And it means thinking outside the box on skateboarding.
Making Greenfield a more welcoming place for skateboarding could have a lasting impact whether there’s a park here or not.