Point of View: New skatepark encourages activity for all ages

You may have heard that money is being raised for a new construction project at the Homer Skatepark located at the HERC building. If so, as a parent, community member or aspiring rider, you probably have one question at the top of your mind.

Will there be scabs?

I’m happy to tell you that the answer is yes, there will certainly be scabs later this summer. Also bruises, scrapes, fear and excitement. Friends of the Homer Skatepark and the Homer Foundation are working with the city to bring in one small and one midsize halfpipe that will suit the known, or unknown, desires of beginning-to-advanced skaters, scooter users, bikers and quad skaters.

You can think of these improvements as a way for kids who have outgrown the playground to have a space that allows the same kind of free play. It’s an unsupervised, uncoached creative activity where goals are set based only on desire and obsession. All these sports are accessible on a pretty small budget, but the payout in smiles per hour can be high, and they can take place without a trip across the bay or to Girdwood. Every sunny day can be a day that kids or adults face bite-size challenges that eventually stack up to deep skill building and mastery. The ramps being brought in are the same types of surface and dimensions that will be used when skateboarding premieres as an Olympic sport this summer in Tokyo.

Modern skate ramps have evolved to provide exciting and slightly, but not very, risky levels of speed and energy. Young riders learn lessons about momentum, impact, speed and body awareness under the guise of fun. Older riders have a consistent space to learn and refine tricks and exert themselves to whatever level they see fit.

Making improvements to the Homer Skatepark is one of many solutions to the problems that teens and pre-teens have in our new digital environment — too much screen time, free floating anxiety, inability to assess or manage real world risk, too much supervision, etc. But importantly, it’s one that can bear fruit with a fairly small investment.

Friends of the Homer Skatepark plans to continue to advocate for more or better riding terrain in Homer. The current project is just the first step in getting more kids riding and more adults involved. Take a look or weigh in on our Facebook page and consider that towns all over the U.S. and Alaska have world class skateparks. Homer kids gotta rip too!

The current city skatepark may or may not continue to exist as it’s tied to the HERC building, which has an uncertain future. The incoming ramps are modular and can be moved to another location. We hope that location will be a central, visible high quality skatepark where parents can drop their kids off and then have to drag them away from the fun hours later.

Your contribution to the current project at the Homer Skatepark can make a difference this summer. Friends of the Skatepark is more than two-thirds of the way toward a goal of $21,000 for purchasing these ramp kits. We have already sent a down payment to get production started and will have another month to raise the rest of our goal for ramp shipping and purchasing material locally.

To donate, write a check to the Homer Foundation with Skatepark Revitalization in the memo line, which can be mailed to them at P.O.Box 2600, Homer AK 99603, or taken to their office at 3733 Ben Walters Lane, Suite 7. Even easier, go to the donate page at homerfoundation.org and click on Homer Skatepark Revitalization from the dropdown menu.

George Overpeck used to skate and hopes that Homer gets a great park before he’s too old to start again.

MAPP (Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships) is a local health improvement coalition with the vision of a proactive, resilient and innovative community.