Y skate park is nice start, but that’s it

T

he Community YMCA in Red Bank announced this week that it will be working with the borough to construct a skate park at its facilities. For YMCA members who skateboard this will be a great bonus to their membership at the club that offers everything from aerobics to swimming to roller hockey.

No doubt the park will be well-maintained, well-run and widely probably popular. What it won’t be, however, is public.

The borough of Red Bank is offering up this proposal as a way to appease the skateboarders who, if a proposed law passes next week, will be banned from skating on downtown streets and at public parks. It is a way for Red Bank to not have to worry about things like liability, maintenance and patrol-ling a public park. It’s also a way for the town to get the skaters out of its proverbial hair.

It’s not the best option.

Red Bank could learn a lesson from the residents of Fair Haven who are working to build a public skate park where anyone could skate. The Fair Haven park is in the beginning stages of planning now. Residents Rob Wallman and Joe Perrotto are working with kids, professional skaters and insurance professionals to draft a proposal to present to their Borough Council.

Wallman and Perrotto are taking a pro-active approach that involves the community. They have a realistic understanding of the potential risks of a park and are proceeding responsibly, making sure their plans include concerns of safety for skaters and noise that might bother neighbors.

Their plans may include a nominal yearly permit fee. This would serve to keep track of who is skating but wouldn’t be cost prohibitive for kids. If the Y decides to charge its regular membership fees for kids looking to use its skate park, it may end up that the only ones who skate there are ones with money to spare.

Acknowledging that Red Bank and surrounding areas are largely affluent, it isn’t the amount of money so much as it is the spirit of the thing. Why wouldn’t Red Bank take the time and energy to consider building a public park of its own? If the Fair Haven group is right, their park will cost about $30,000-$40,000 and won’t in-crease liability insurance costs. The project would not be a hard one for either borough to swing.

Instead though, the borough of Red Bank will likely leave it up to the YMCA to provide a venue for skaters, even though it provides tennis and basketball courts for other residents. Sure it’s not quite the same thing, but neither is trying to pass off a private park as an equal trade for virtually banning a public sport.