In my post yesterday, I quoted somebody who seemed skeptical that the Vision Fairbanks plan for downtown’s revitalization was “uniquely Alaskan”. One of the less-unique things he cited was the plan for a skate park. Okay, a downtown skate park isn’t unique. But I think it’s a great idea.
In all the public meetings when planning consultants Crandall Arambula tried to find out which features of downtown were especially prized by Fairbanksans and which concerned them, and which projects were most important to them (the grocery store won hands down) — the skate park advocates came out in droves. Not only did they swamp the online surveys indicating that they wanted a skate park, but they showed up to the public meetings in large numbers, handed out flyers at the door, and spoke persuasively when giving table discussion reports. While the grammar and spelling on their flyers might have used improvement, they got an A-plus in civics. Other people thought so too: when it came time for participants to indicate their preferences for projects, the skate park was a big winner.
Now, it wouldn’t be my choice for a priority project, and I’ve heard a few other middle-aged adults express reservations. But we have to be faithful to the public process, if we don’t want to disenfranchise some youth and disillusion those who believe in the integrity of that process.
But even setting aside the process, I really think it’s a good idea. Skateboarding is largely an activity of youth — and every downtown needs a dose of youth. Downtown shouldn’t be a place just for the well-to-do, or just for families, or just for the middle-aged: no, the young should also be there to infuse the place with energy and give the rest of us a much-needed kick in the pants. And the reverse is true, too: not only does downtown need them, but they need downtown — the exposure to a world of adults from all walks of life.
I don’t think young people thrive by being given a segregated place of their own. They need a place among us. Let’s invite them!