2019-03-15 / Front Page

Skate park committee to present to council March 26

By Malcolm Jacob
Contributing Writer


Lucas and Levi Brown of South Portland at a skate park in Scarborough in 2007. Lucas, now 18, is a member of the city committee thats aim is to bring a skate park to South Portland. (Courtesy photo) Lucas and Levi Brown of South Portland at a skate park in Scarborough in 2007. Lucas, now 18, is a member of the city committee thats aim is to bring a skate park to South Portland. (Courtesy photo) SOUTH PORTLAND – When the average person imagines skateboarding as a sport, they may immediately think of professionals such as Tony Hawk, or the athletes who are to participate in the 2020 Summer Olympics. The truth is, you are almost never too young or too old to be a skateboarder. A perfect example of this is 18-year-old Lucas Brown, who has been practicing with a board since the age of 6.

On Tuesday, March 26, the ad-hoc Skate Park Advisory Committee will present its findings to the South Portland City Council at a public hearing held at 6:30 p.m. at city hall. The committee seeks to study the possibility of having a skate park in the city. Its methods include collaborating with and speaking to community members, as well as looking at existing research and previously built parks.


South Portland resident Lucas Brown in 2018 at LES Coleman Skatepark in in the Lower East Side in New York City. Brown calls it an “iconic” spot. (Courtesy photo) South Portland resident Lucas Brown in 2018 at LES Coleman Skatepark in in the Lower East Side in New York City. Brown calls it an “iconic” spot. (Courtesy photo) Brown is an active member in the movement. He believes a skate park is an intergenerational place, where people of all ages can come together in the name of exercising and improving their health. He described a “great communal aspect” that emerges out of such a recreational environment. Nobody is left out, and unlike competitive sports, each participant can go at their own pace.

“It’s like Big Brothers Big Sisters,” he said about his experiences at skate parks. “Older and younger kids are bouncing ideas off of each other, and they are having a great time.”

Many community members and organizations have become involved with the movement since its beginning. Supporters include, but are not limited to, SoPo Unite, JMG and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Maine.

The park would potentially include obstacles that accommodate two different styles of skateboarding. These styles are known as “street,” which involves urban obstacles such as stairs, and “vert” (also called “transition”), which involves structures such as ramps and half-pipes. The committee hopes that South Portland’s park would feature a combination of the two, as well as flat areas for beginners.

Brown first began skating at a young age, when his grandfather bought him a skateboard. He started by practicing on the hill in his neighborhood, and then moved on to the skate parks in Portland and Scarborough. There is always something new for him to work on, such as a trick to master or an obstacle to conquer.

Much like working out in a gym, skateboarding is a method of staying in shape. For some, it may offer reprieve from the stress of work, school or home. It is also a form of self-expression, and it gives participants the opportunity to solve problems and improve their skills. A trick must be practiced for many hours before being successfully completed. Once a skateboarder enters the right state of mind, their mental health can improve considerably.

This is not just speculation: the body releases endorphins when you exercise, which can contribute to positive feelings. The endorphins produced during exercise help a person de-stress and can boost their wellbeing.

Therefore, a skate park would provide a safe space for young people, where they could take healthier risks and have moments of personal growth.

“That’s what you become addicted to: doing tricks,” Brown said. “It’s having a board under your feet, instead of the alternative.”

In addition, skate parks are also said to contribute to safer communities. Studies have shown that public skate parks can actually reduce crime and have positive impact with local youth.

The March 26 meeting will include time for public comment, so the public is encouraged to attend.

To learn more about the discussion of a skate park in South Portland, visit the Skate Park Committee page on the town’s website. The movement can also be followed on Facebook at So Po Skate Park Creative Think Tank, or on Instagram at @sopo_ skatepark.

FMI

South Portland’s ad-hoc Skate Park Advisory Committee will make a presentation to the city council at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 26 at South Portland City Hall.

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