Lakeside. Does the name make you cringe? Do you think of hillbillies or predominant drug use? For the uninformed, here’s a fact: Lakeside was once the methamphetamine capital of the country.
Action Sport Development, a prime licensed landscape architecture firm, is teaming with San Diego County to design and erect the county’s first “wheel friendly” skate park in Lakeside. The park is intended to be placed next to Lindo Lake in the center of Lakeside, and would accept skateboarders and bike riders of all ages. Bikes are typically banned from skate parks because of damage to the park and injuries incurred from skater-biker collisions. This new wheel-friendly plan, however, has been designed to accommodate skaters, bikers and pedestrians alike.
The details of the plan are available on Action Sport Development’s website as well as two websites dedicated specifically to the skate park and Lakeside’s Lindo Lake Recreational Center.
Funding of the skate park is not fully detailed; however, fundraising events such as “Lindo Lake Skate Jam” and “Community Awareness” days have been created to bring publicity to the plan and funds to the table.
The private funding is going to be a key factor in whether or not Lakeside’s skate park plan ever comes to fruition – especially with budget cuts causing politicians to turn a blind eye to low-income, high-crime areas such as East County.
A community skate park in Lakeside, more specifically at Lindo Lake, would be a perfect deterrent from the normal drug use and high transient population in that area. An estimated 2,655 youths between 10 and 18 years old live in the unincorporated area of Lakeside. Aside from the Lindo Lake park area, there are no youth-friendly public spaces available in the central parts of the city.
Skate parks of this kind have been seen elsewhere in the country and created specifically to deter crime and drug use among kids and teens. The skate parks also offer safety for youths who would normally skate on the street, heightening the risk of being hit by passing vehicles.
The Tony Hawk Foundation interviewed law enforcement officials in communities where public skate parks have been constructed with contributions from the foundation. Among the 102 officials surveyed, “the majority of law enforcement officers consider their public skate park a significant community asset.”
Most law enforcement officers believe having a skate park added to their community has been a “positive addition” and some departments are “working with the skaters to improve the skate parks and to promote them in their communities.” The survey, which was conducted in 2009 in 37 states from Oregon to New Hampshire, found 90 percent of the interviewed officials said the skate park has helped their community to improve and 85 percent have noticed a significant decrease in calls regarding complaints at the skate park.
Another city on the west coast, Issaquah, Washington, is practically begging its local government to allocate funds to demolish and relocate its local skate park in hopes of refreshing the positive attitudes of community members and bringing back the safety it once boasted years ago. Since its unveiling 10 years ago, it has become a forgotten gem hidden behind a community center below a drop-off. Because of the secluded location, the park has become a haven for drug use and crime. Local police claim to patrol the area avidly, but as expressed on the park’s Facebook page and on the petition for relocation, kids in the area just don’t feel safe there.
For too long, skateboarding has had a reputation of increasing crime and breeding delinquent teenagers. In reality, a skate park being placed in a less than satisfactory area will bring more positive outcomes than negative ones. Youth in the area will have a place to go after school that is safe, promotes outdoor activities and, with proper surveillance, has the potential to rid the area of transients and drug use. This planned community addition has extreme potential to give the area a better reputation and the youngsters who live there the opportunity to enjoy something those before them could not.