Common Issues and Answers

Below are some of the claims you may encounter as you advocate for the skatepark along with a reasonable answer. When you address anti-skatepark comments directly, and especially in front of a larger audience, you should speak to the audience’s interests and not try to “do battle” with the person expressing the concern. Don’t try to convince each person that skateparks are the cure for all things. Instead, politely recognize their concern and focus on your core group’s goals and vision for the skatepark.

Don’t recite any facts that you aren’t sure about. This will bite you on the ass later and demolish your group’s credibility.

Whenever possible, avoid contradicting the anti-skatepark speaker. You’re not there to argue and have a debate. Show the audience that you’ve anticipated this concern and have given this project’s solution some careful consideration. Be thoughtful and open-minded.

For “hot” conversations and presentations, invite the audience as a whole, or individuals within the audience, to join you for a skatepark tour. This essentially says, “don’t trust us? Let’s go see for ourselves.” You can also conclude the conversation with an open invitation to have casual follow-up meetings over coffee.

Most importantly, relax and take your time. You aren’t required to have all the answers all the time. You can always answer with, “let’s figure that out together.”

“Skateboarding promotes a countercultural lifestyle!”
“It’s true that skateboarding media likes to show some skateboarders as countercultural icons, but we’re not building this skatepark to celebrate that. We recognize that skateboarding doesn’t share baseball’s ‘All-American’ reputation, and yet we’re confident that when you look at the skateboarders in this room tonight you’ll find that they’re hardly the kinds of thugs that one might imagine. Skateboarders simply need a place to skate, and there’s no better place to do that than at a skatepark.”

“Skateboarding presents too much liability.”
“Unfortunately, we don’t have a lawyer in the skatepark advisory group, but here’s how we see it. Most skateboarding injuries happen to the wrists, followed by the ankles, and a vast majority of these injuries happen to people that have been skating for a week or less. According to the safety statistics we found—and we’d be happy to look at any others that aren’t aligned with these—skateboarding results in fewer emergency room visits, per participant, than basketball, baseball, and soccer. We can share our sources and specific data with anyone that would like to learn more.”

“The skatepark presents a serious environmental impact.”
“Every effort will be made to address these concerns. If there are heritage trees, wetlands, or some other aspect of the site that we, as a community, feel are vital to preserve, we’ll look at our options. We’ve looked at lots of skateparks that embrace their natural surroundings and are really looking forward to coming up with designs that are sensitive to the natural environment. Once we get into the design phase, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what can be done.”

“You need to conduct an environmental impact study.”
“We are sensitive to anyone’s concerns about the impact this skatepark will have on the environment, but environmental impact studies are expensive and time-consuming. However, we appreciate how seriously you feel about this. We propose that, for the time being, we first look at skateparks at locations like ours where environmental impact studies have already been conducted and see if they reveal anything useful. This will be a fiscally responsible approach. If, after looking at other skateparks, your concerns aren’t adequately addressed, we’ll explore the idea of conducting one for this project further.”

“The skatepark will be noisy.”
“For many of us, our experience with skateboards is when they roll down the sidewalks. The sidewalk is much rougher than the skatepark, so most of the wheel sound will be inaudible. What you will hear is local kids having a good time. Sound studies [j2] conducted at skateparks across the nation have revealed skateparks to be about as loud as a few people have a conversation. The skatepark will certainly emit less ambient sound than a baseball field or a playground.”

“The skatepark will be an eyesore.”
“Nobody wants an ugly skatepark, especially those people that will frequently use it. They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and there are some people that won’t like the skatepark no matter what. What we see is a place where kids can work on some tricks and break a sweat. If it’s trash you’re worried about, we’re confident that we can find some great, fun ways of keeping trash to a minimum.”

“The skatepark will be covered in graffiti.”
“There’s no reason to think the skatepark will be covered in graffiti. We have lots of facilities that don’t have graffiti, so we’ll take the approach to graffiti that those other facilities have used. We’ll do the same thing that works elsewhere.”

“There’s no room for a skatepark here.”
“When we talk about skateparks, it’s important to emphasize that we’re talking about a modern facility. It is going to be professionally designed and will work with the space so that the skating area feels integrated with other park visitors.”

“The skatepark will be too crowded.”
“We’ve been working hard to identify what our community needs are. While this skatepark won’t fully meet our needs, it’s a good start. We’ll continue to look for opportunities for additional skateparks and skate spots after this park is done to help relieve some of the load on this facility. In other words, we agree that the park may be crowded but it’s a good problem to have and we’ll continue to work on establishing a reasonable level of service in the future.”

“There’s not enough parking.”
“Most skateboarders are too young to drive, so parking shouldn’t be an issue. Driving-age skaters should represent 30% or less of the skatepark patrons, and because skateboarding is social, most skaters will arrive in groups. To ensure the demands on parking are met, we will survey similar skateparks in other communities and see how they addressed their parking issues, if they had them.”

“Skaters will use foul language.”
“The skatepark is going to address some very serious issues, and we’d hate to see any important decisions being made based on something like this. Some teenagers swear. We recognize that. We feel that it’s important that the skatepark is inclusive and invites people from the whole community to come check it out, and that the facility attracts skateboarders of all ages. This should help keep the language reasonable.”

“Skaters will smoke and drink at the park.”
“Teenage smoking and drinking is a problem that our whole community shares and certainly isn’t exclusive to skateboarders. The skatepark will be a popular attraction for skaters of all ages, and will be interesting to non-skaters as well. This passive supervision should help manage teenage smoking and drinking. The last thing we want to do is to put the skatepark somewhere that nobody can see or interact with it.”

“There are inadequate support facilities there.”
“The most important support amenity is a restroom. The restroom can be anywhere nearby, and lots of skateparks do without. We’ll be considering this issue carefully as things progress. If we feel that a restroom is essential—and that there are no alternatives—we would consider a porta-potty as a last resort.”

“The skatepark will redefine the whole character of the park.”
“We recognize that the current character of the park will be altered, but we see it as an improvement that builds on the park’s strengths. The skatepark will invite a new generation of park visitors to build memories at the park.”

“We can’t afford it.”
“The skateboarding youth aren’t asking for a hand-out. We’re willing to do the work—whatever it takes—and work WITH the city and the public to create this important facility.”

“We shouldn’t need to pay for this ‘special interest.’”
“We wouldn’t expect you to. The skatepark addresses an important need in our community. Not only does it keep kids off the streets and gives them something positive to do, but they’re willing to do the work to make it happen. All we’re asking for is a partnership.”

“Routes to and from the skatepark will be a nuisance or dangerous.”
“We recognize that busy streets pose a safety concern, and nearby residents are concerned about the impact of skateboarders near their homes. It’s important to remember that, today, those skateboarders are in the streets and skating wherever they can find suitable terrain. The skatepark will be an appropriate place for these youth to recreate.”