Findlay officials did the right thing this week by closing the Eagle Creek Skate Park. While the city would be largely protected from lawsuits from accidents that happen there, it’s better to be safe than sued.
Still, the City Council should not delay upgrading the park or moving it to a more suitable place.
Located just off Park Street, it has been a popular hangout for boarders and skaters since it opened 14 years ago. But the wooden ramps have fallen into disrepair and are hazardous.
On Wednesday, the city locked the park’s gate.
Public Works Superintendent Matt Stoffel has been looking into repair costs, and has also suggested relocating the skate park to Riverside Park.
There, a more permanent, durable park could be constructed. It would also be easier for police to patrol.
But Riverside Park shouldn’t be the only new location considered. The city-owned land on the east side of Western Avenue near Rawson Park, where a BMX bike trail is located, or the former Brandman Corp. property on North Cory Street are also good sites.
Or, perhaps, there’s a location downtown or along the Blanchard River?
One thing seems certain: A new park should be more centrally located. The current one, while convenient for south-enders, is not so for those on the north side.
It made sense for it to be built between Park Street and the CSX Railroad tracks back in 2000, when the Hancock Park District office was located nearby on Park Street. Employees could keep an eye on the park and call for help if needed. Parents and volunteers helped police it in the early days.
But since the park office moved, skate park monitoring has waned, along with neighborhood oversight. Lack of maintenance of the park itself may have contributed to less use in recent years.
The wooden decks are warped and splintered, creating hazards to those who board, skate or bike there. It’s the users of the latter, officials say, that have caused the once-smooth surfaces to deteriorate, as the layout wasn’t designed for use with bikes.
But trends change. All kids don’t like riding the same kind of wheels. A new park should be able to accommodate all.
Fewer skaters at the park shouldn’t be seen as a sign that youth have lost interest. It’s not unusual to see kids riding skateboards or Rollerblading down a sidewalk or in a driveway.
The community must find ways to expand, not reduce, recreation options for youth. It’s harder and harder to keep kids physically active these days with all the distractions they face with TV, cellphones and computers.
Today’s youth need more things to do outside.
A skate park may not be used as much as a baseball diamond or a soccer field, but it would still fill a recreational need for a significant number of youth and adults.
One way or the other, the city should keep a skate park, and allocate funds to maintain it.
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