Post by SoS Pioneer Valley Program Leader Evan Scheltema
This post I’ll be talking about patching up the Turners Falls Skatepark, with much help via tools and supplies from Bryan Dolan, Turners Falls resident and skateboarding guru.
The patching up of the park I did with a friend and part time participant of Summer of Solutions, Mason Poulin, came about as a result of the cancellation of a skateboarding workshop, set to take place as a part of the Summer Workshop Series, of The Brick House Community Resource Center. The park was dubbed unsafe to skate because of obtrusive objects and metal bits sticking out from the ramps, and recently a youth had been injured at the park. Unbeknownst to me, due to this the park was closed, and this was found out only days before the workshop, leading to its cancellation. In turn, I felt it should be fixed to allow kids to skate in an environment that promotes, not rejects, skateboarding.
It really is a shame that the park is in such a state a disrepair. When talking with Bryan (who, along with his girlfriend, is on the skatepark committee in Turners Falls), he told me that the park’s life may be limited to the rest of this summer/winter and maybe some of next year. Since it was in such a state of disrepair and maintaining was a job that required much too much time in the busy life of Bryan. This made me really sad considering I learned to skate at that very park back when it was over by Unity Park. Recently too, Greenfield lost its park leaving quite a few angsty youth with nowhere to skate. If the Turners Falls park were to close, there would be no more skate parks in all of Franklin County. Considering how many displaced youth I know personally and gauging from the interest level based on our outreach project, I would say that is pretty ridiculous. Especially when the skaters now get a lot of flak from the town officials and the paper about skating in other, non-sanctioned areas. It just doesn’t make sense to me. How can you take someone’s space, then get mad at them when they move to another?
So I guess the point I am getting at, is that skateboarding is necessary, and by removing a skatepark you will not get rid of the skaters. It is exercise, a sport, a lifestyle, an art form, and in my eyes, it is the adaptation of urban/sub-urban youth as a product of their environment. Skateboarding is limitless and stretches not only your physical limitations but also stretches your imagination to come up with never before done tricks and stunts unique to you. There is no coach yelling at you to get up and do it again, it is personal motivation and perseverance that lend themselves to skateboarding. Seeing the world through your eyes while on a skateboard will literally transform it into a massive obstacle course, and allows you to step out of your day to day mind into an entirely new perspective. So now I ask, why is this activity shunned? It escapes and baffles me. So lets all stand together and support skateboarding!