A Brainerd pastor this past year found himself in an unusual predicament that forced him to shoo away a young skateboarder who was skating on church property.
The pastor was a friend to young people and had preached the importance of welcoming teens to the church but liability issues forced him to ask the young skateboarder to refrain from skating at the church.
The young man wasn't out to do any harm. He was just looking for a place where he could catch some air on his skateboard. When the pastor asked him to leave the young man went away in search of a location where he could skate without being chased away by a well-meaning adult.
The incident illustrates the plight many adults find themselves in. They don't want to play the role of the heavy but common sense tells them they can't risk having youngsters get hurt on company or personal property.
That's why government leaders should consider a request two teens, Jake Rennaker and Jason Winch, made last month at a Brainerd City Council meeting. The young men asked for written support for a skate park at Jaycees Park in Brainerd and that Brainerd Parks and Recreation specialist Tony Sailer could continue to work with a planning team.
The young people have some adult and corporate support that bodes well for their plan. Debbie Olander, a former Brainerd City Council member, is an advocate and the planning team is also working with Home Depot and KaBOOM!, a nonprofit group that specializes in linking communities and corporations in order to build safe, accessible playgrounds. Karl Samp of the Initiative Foundation has also lent his expertise to the group.
If investigation of the issue concludes a skate park will be used by area teens, then this is a project that's worth supporting. Among the questions that should be asked first are: What's the success rate of other skate parks and what are the costs?
Skateboarding is a popular pastime for young people and if a safe environment can be provided for them to have some fun without damaging anyone's property the community will benefit.
A skate park could involve regional support since it may very well draw skaters from the entire Brainerd lakes area. Some sort of funding formula could no doubt be devised so the entire financial burden wouldn't fall on Brainerd alone. Brainerd area citizens and businesses have proven they'll spend money on projects that help young people if they can be convinced the cause is worthwhile. Establishment of a safe skate park that would serve the area's young people could prove to be a worthwhile endeavor that could gain widespread community support.
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