Monday, July 13, 2015

What better place for a skatepark than at Farm Pond?

Across Dudley Road from Cushing Memorial Park is a sunny open area near the Bocce Court and adjacent parking area. It is a fitting place to have an outstanding skatepark. Not only could it serve the young skateboarders, but could become a place for families and people to relax, exercise and enjoy this area close to Farm Pond as well. A well-designed skatepark could be an attractive addition to the draw of the Cushing Park area.

The ideal location for a skatepark is at Farm Pond, opposite Cushing Park. (Click on photo to enlarge)

Selecting best location for a skatepark is primary goal 

A skatepark is only as good as the site that it’s located within. And because a skatepark’s site is so critical to the ongoing success of the facility, finding the perfect one can often be one of the most arduous parts of the skatepark development process. Some of the most important criteria to focus on when evaluating potential skatepark sites are:

Visibility. How easy would it be for law enforcement and parents to patrol and check-in on the skatepark? Is the site surrounded by other active areas, giving users the sense that eyes could be on them at any given time?

Skatepark advocate Katherine (Kelly) Lopez, mother of
eight year-old Sam (above), was not considered for the
Skatepark Advisory Committee. Ms. Lopez submitted
a detailed letter to Parks and Recreation explaining her
experiences in Skateparks and skateboarding. She has
been a speaker at Town Meeting and Board of Selectmen
meetings. Requirements for this position on the Advisory
Committee stated that the applicant must be a parent
of potential skatepark users who will use the park or other
adult with familiarity with the recreational needs of
children and young people. Familiarity with the needs of
children on the south side of Framingham is a plus.
Katherine Lopez was personally interviewed but was
rejected for someone not involved in skateboarding
who submitted a three-sentence email.
Accessibility. How centralized is the site? Is it on the outskirts of town and hard to get to for the majority of the town’s residents? What is the proximity to public transport? (bus, train, bike trails, sidewalks for walking/skating, etc.)

Design possibilities. Is there enough space to achieve the desired square footage for the skatepark? Is there potential for future expansion? Is the shape of the space conducive to skateboarding traffic patterns or do awkward corners and boundaries create challenges? Is the topography conducive to skatepark design? Do natural elevation changes present opportunities or challenges? Would the scenery, aesthetics and atmosphere compliment a social gathering space like a skatepark? Do water-table depth or existing drainage present opportunities or challenges?

Amenities and Infrastructure. Does they site have existing support amenities such as parking, restrooms, water fountain, etc. within walking distance or would they have to be created?

Benefits of a skatepark

Skateparks provide a safe environment for skateboarding. The majority of skateboarding injuries happen outside skateparks. The most common injuries are falls due to surface irregularities and collisions with motor vehicles or pedestrians. Skateboarding is going to happen whether skateparks exist or not, so the best way to keep youth safe is to provide them access to safe, designated spaces to pursue their activity.

Skateboarding has significant physical heath benefits. Arguably the most important reason for participating in action sports is the fact that it keeps you healthy and physically fit. Finding an activity that gets kids off the couch and keeps them in shape is vital for the youth of this nation, especially in this time of a national health crisis. See: The New York Times “Skateboards for Work and Working Out” Shivani Vora August 22, 2013

Skateboarding has significant mental health benefits. Skateboarding is a unique activity because it combines extreme physical exertion with precise muscle coordination and balance. The complexity of performing tricks on a skateboard improves brain function at a fundamental level and stimulates new cell growth in the brain.

Skateboarding offers creativity and self expression. Just as in figure skating, skateboarding is a high energy sport that demands creativity because it constantly encourages skaters to learn tricks and maneuvers with their boards. Skate parks allow skaters to develop their skills and use their creativity to come up with new and interesting tricks. Skate parks give skaters the opportunity to safely practice their sport and enhance their skill in a very creative and competitive environment.

Imagine a Farm Pond Crossing via waterbuses from a newly designed Mt. Waite Plaza with Farm Pond connections to the skatepark area and to Downtown Framingham. A stop at the skatepark would be an opportunity to walk across to Cushing Park, the Children's Grove and to other sport activities. Walking/biking paths around Farm Pond would further enhance and establish the Farm Pond area as a destination for people and lessen the need for automobiles.