So, the local buzz around Jax is a proposal by City Councilman Bill Gulliford to ban skateboarding downtown. A line is being drawn in the concrete between skaters and non skaters. Words are being tossed around on Facebook and other social media channels.
“Please ban them.”
“ They’re not hurting anything.”
“They’re destroying private and public property.”
“ Go skate at the skate park.
“ Build more skate parks.”
I’ll first point out that this proposed ban is ridiculous. Well, that about sums that up, so let’s move on.
When you get past all of the name calling and back and forth arguing, there is one underlying, basic human theme to all of this. We fear what we do not understand. Our first instinct is to put it down or rally against it. Like most things we don’t know or understand, when we take the time to educate ourselves, we generally find that our fear was unfounded. Councilman Gulliford was quoted as saying, ”I’ve been approached at times by people who feel at risk by some of the skateboarders downtown.” My guess is that these people saw a small group of people who were sweaty, dirty, and smelly skating around downtown. They probably didn’t stop to think that the skaters have been out in the heat all day pouring their hearts and souls into something they love. Most of the guys who skate downtown are well aware of the consequences for their actions. But there’s a big difference between skating on public ledges or stairs, which many tickets have been written over the years, and simply cruising around much like you would on a bicycle or scooter. If I was a politician I might say, “That’s a slippery slope.” But I’m not a politician, Councilman, you are. Instead of focusing on the negativity and the fear, I suggest focusing on the positive solutions. I’ve heard a great argument today from people who are for the ban. “Go to the skate park!” I love that idea. The problem is that it’s not practical for every skater to traverse the span of this great city to get to a skate park. When the Jax Beach skate park is finished there will be three public free skate parks at the beach.
It’s time we as a community start looking into putting a skate park in the downtown area. What do you say, Bill? Let’s work together to do something positive for our community.