Dec 11, 2012 - By Craig Blumenshine, Staff WriterThere is no question that Riverton City Park is a beautiful place. But it is not perceived as a safe place for our kids.
And the stunner here is that our kids understand that.
Perception, in this case, is reality.
We all know it. We hate to admit it. We don't want to talk about it much. But we all know it.
The Riverton City Council will see troubling video proof of that tonight at its work session when it considers a grand request by some game and thoughtful young people who want to partner with the city to improve, and perhaps move, Riverton's skate park.
Their project presents a troubling dilemma for the city.
Should our kids embark on a substantial fundraising campaign to create a nice skate park -- where their main goal is to improve the image of their sport in a safer, family friendly, facility -- in a place that we believe is not safe?
Did you know that our kids have a name for the fence that separates the current skate area from the band shell in City Park?
They call it the Zombie Fence. Seriously.
"We don't want them to come in and eat our brains," the kids say, referring to the vagrants, usually intoxicated, who frequent the area.
Nobody wants to be around the Zombie Fence. So why on Earth would it make any sense at all to create a mostly new and modern skate park facility, just like the ones in Cody, Pinedale, Casper and Sheridan, in Riverton City Park if only the Zombie Fence separates our kids from trouble?
It makes no sense at all.
Our kids deserve to have a better, safer, family-friendly skate park. And we all deserve to have a better, safer, family friendly Riverton City Park.
And therein lies the opportunity.
When the Riverton City Council thinks about the skate park, we hope they remember their early-year goal of encouraging city park activities through church-sponsored activities, recreation and more family-oriented events in City Park.
We hope the council takes a long-term view of an opportunity to re-energize City Park, including rebuilding a skate park, to make it truly a vital community park again, just like it used to be.
We need to give our citizens a reason to come to City Park every day.
Let's add Riverton's first dog park. We don't have one, but we could use one. Let's build it.
How about zero-depth aquatic play? It's not a pool, but it's where our kids could go in the summer to play and get buckets of water dumped on them, run in mini fountains, or squirt each other, while the water recycles for more fun, and smiling parents socialize while watching.
Could we create a nice walking path around the perimeter of City Park with benches and outdoor fitness stations? Laramie's Washington Park has one.
Let's fix our tennis courts. They need it. Baseball used to be played in City Park every day in the summer. Have we thought about working with Little League, the soccer program or even the Riverton Junior Football League to get games played in City Park again?
What happened to the horseshoe pits? I've seen lighted, artificial surface fields in community parks. Should we build one?
What it all takes is a plan. A true effort to reclaim City Park will take thought, time and money. Years, perhaps.
The city is thinking about seeking funds, perhaps as much as $80,000 or more, to build a small green space that would have a fence and locks around it across the street from a bar, on Main Street, three blocks to the west.
Should that new green space have a higher priority than making a run at rebuilding City Park?
If it does, then the skate park kids thought of moving probably is an idea that should be considered. They shouldn't have the lonely responsibility of solving City Park's troubles on their own.
"Staff believes as we enhance the park and make it look the best possible, and we start to use it, then the reputation will change, and more people will use it," city administrator Steven Weaver said in March.
The city should embrace the opportunity to enhance City Park. It already looks good. It's time to take the next step.
Have a great sports week. Go Big Red!
Editor's note: If you would like to view the video discussed in today's column, you can now at dailyranger.com/park
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