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Your Views: Gainesville needs places where youngsters can skate safely
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I read with interest, concern and dismay the story in The Times on skateboarding, roller skates, in-line skates, bicycling and horses in public places in Gainesville.

OK, I agree on one point: Parking decks should be excluded mostly for the safety of all, for many reasons. But living in a townhouse (with no yard), only a couple of blocks from the square that I love and in the center of the paths through our downtown parks, I want to strongly object.

What will happen to Santa and rides around the square? Where will the Chicken City Cyclists gather before their rides? Will we never see the Tour de Georgia zooming around our square again? Pity the kids and parents who share bike rides all through the parks. I am distressed that no more grandparents can push strollers and visit in the parks nor on the square.

I think I understand the thinking, to avoid vandalism. Of course we want to avoid and eliminate vandalism, but generally it is not sports-loving folks who do damage to areas they use repeatedly.

I can remember when the city was petitioned to provide the paved ramps from street to sidewalks just so bicycles and folks with disabilities could easily and safely travel on and off sidewalks. It is really sad that the eternal flame was disrespected and damaged. I am disappointed the rooster statues have disappeared from the square and other places. Somehow I do not believe they were carried off on bikes nor skateboards.

There has been lots of talk about a designated outdoor skating facility. We need one and it must be convenient for walkers because most skateboarders and in-line skaters start well before they can drive.

Right now one of the most amazing and challenging activities in the Winter Olympics is the snowboarding for men and women. It probably is safe to say that these fabulous athletes started on skateboards. The commentators frequently mention that the speed skaters began as in-line skaters on land.

These land sports are terrific activities for North Georgia. You need to travel to towns that have well planned and well run skate parks. These parks are quiet, safe and encourage young people to exercise. Individuals can participate at all levels and with relative expense and it is indeed a great spectator sport for those of us who grew up skating, bicycling and riding horses all over Gainesville who are now enthusiastic cheerleaders.

Rosemary Wood Dodd

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