Why not build a skate park?


Jeff Gilliland Staff columnist


There has been talk recently about the city of Hillsboro placing a skateboard park on the old tennis courts at the city park on Railroad Street. I’m not sure how how much it would cost, where the funds would come from, or even how much it might be used. But if some kind of survey can be done and it indicates that the park would get plenty of use, I’d like to throw my two cents in and say I am all for it – for a variety of reasons.

In its infancy, the current city park was a flurry of activity. I know, because I was there often in the 1970s and ’80s. There would sometimes be families picnicking in the back part, on nice spring, summer and autumn days the basketball courts would be full with people playing and others waiting on the sidelines for their turn, and the tennis courts got more than their share of use.

But in recent years the park has been neglected and has become a bit of an eye sore. The restrooms were closed long ago due to vandalism, the tennis courts have grass growing in them, and the nets and poles that held the nets have been removed. You can still find kids playing basketball there some, but the mud that erodes onto the courts from the hill on one end, and is seldom cleaned up, surely doesn’t help attract anyone.

So, turning the tennis courts into a skateboard park that could also be used by roller skaters, skateboarders and others – and sprucing up the rest of the park a bit – seems to me like it would only enhance our city.

I wonder how many people know that when the park was built back in the 1970s that the tennis courts were designed in such a way that they could be flooded and used as an ice skating rink in the winter? It never worked, but it was a good idea, and maybe the idea could be entertained again. How cool would it be if kids and families had a safe place to ice skate in the winter? I can almost imagine it looking like something out of a Norman Rockwell scene.

Would a skateboard park be used enough to justify the cost? I’m not sure. But I know that back in the 1970s it would have been used a lot by my buddies and me.

Most of our group played organized sports, but we had one good buddy who did not. Instead, he specialized in things like skateboarding, ice hockey, foosball, and others. By the way, he is now a retired chiropractor.

So, naturally, his friends all got introduced to those sports, too. And we all had skateboards that we rode all over town. We had no park, but for a year or two skateboards were often our chosen mode of transportation. We rode them in parking lots and driveways, on the streets where the traffic was not as heavy, and on the uptown sidewalks, although some people did not take so kindly to that.

I think they thought we were some kind of young hippies, but actually we were just youngsters burning off energy, having fun, and getting around quicker than we could walk.

I purchased the only skateboard I ever owned from one of the aforementioned buddy’s older sisters. It was state-of-the-art at the time, and smaller than skateboards today. I wasn’t much for tricks on it, but I could zoom around on it pretty good.

To this day it rests in my garage along with similar keepsakes. It has some issues these days, but once a year or so one of our grandkids will drag it out and I can’t resist giving it a whirl up and down the driveway.

A handful of years ago I was hanging out with my sister and her family when we decided to visit her son, who was going to college and living with a bunch of other guys in one of those big, old college-kid houses on 17th Street in Columbus. As I was conversing with some of my nephew’s friends, I noticed a skateboard on the front porch. Then I noticed that 17th Street had a nice downhill slope to it.

“Bet you I can ride that skateboard down that street,” I told the college kids.

I was in my late 40s and my sister gave me a look that said trying it would be a really bad idea. But the college kids had a look of doubt on their faces, and that was all the urging I needed.

So, I grabbed the board, walked to top of the street, hopped aboard, finished my ride flawlessly (no tricks, mind you), and handed the board back to one of the kids with an ornery grin across my face.

The kids seemed mildly impressed, but my sister just shook her head.

Anyway, I really like the idea of a skate park. I think it would be a nice outlet for a lot of kids who maybe don’t have many outlets.

And it sure wouldn’t hurt to spruce up a city eyesore either.

Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or jgilliland@aimmedianetwork.com.

Jeff Gilliland Staff columnist
http://www.timesgazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/33/2017/08/web1_1-Jeff-1.jpgJeff Gilliland Staff columnist