Youth advocates push for bikes at Grass Valley skatepark
Nevada County’s leading youth drug and alcohol prevention group wants to change the rules at a Grass Valley skatepark to allow BMX bicycles on its rails, ramps and bowls.
The initiative comes from NEO, a Grass Valley-based youth center promoting sober activities. The organization hosts 70 events a year at approximately 25 different locations for the benefit of thousands of area youth.
According to one of its founders, the skatepark gives a place to go for those who might otherwise turn to negative activities.
“It is serving an outlet to these kids that don’t have much else to do,” said Lynn Skrukrud, NEO cofounder and its coordinator. “It is a healthy alternative to young people in our community that can keep them away from drugs and alcohol.”
The skatepark, nestled in Condon Park between the dog park and the disk golf course, was designed by Zack Wormhoudt and constructed by the Community Center Association in 2001.
“Guys and girls on BMX bikes is OK for me,” said Tyler Bancroft, 25, at the skatepark Monday.
Bancroft, who has skated there for more than dozen years, said there is little concern among skaters that BMX bikers would be an unwanted invasion of the skatepark.
“It doesn’t bother me, as long as they don’t hit us,” said Dylan Hadley, 20, also at the park Monday. “They are really good about it though. That’s the thing.”
In its inception, the terrain course was designed for skateboards and in-line skates only.
“There was always a rivalry between them … but if this goes through, the last thing I want is for the skate community to feel we are taking it from beneath them,” said Cru Dorsey, 23, a NEO youth coordinator, BMX enthusiast and a web and graphic designer.
Dorsey, who posits himself as the spearhead of the initiative to include BMX bikes in the skatepark, has been riding there for more than a dozen years — and said he has been to jail twice for doing so.
“These kids are being treated as criminals for riding a bike when there are all these other negative things going on there,” Skrukrud said about the park, which is known for illicit activities.
“Drug use in the area is something that is there,” said Tim Kiser, a Grass Valley city engineer.
Skrukrud and Dorsey envision NEO adopting the skatepark, similar to organizations that take responsibility for softball fields and the dog park. Under NEO’s prospective stewardship, its members would maintain and improve the skatepark through fundraising efforts, they said.
“We want to give back to the park in a civil atmosphere,” Dorsey said.
Doing so could alleviate a big hurdle from the city’s perspective: Kiser said adding BMX bikes to the premises would qualify it as a high-risk liability.
“One of the options around is for them to get their own insurance policy,” Kiser said. “It could be a potentially good thing if it could work.”
Doing so might also qualify NEO for grants, Kiser noted.
NEO wants to add more sitting areas to keep people who currently lounge on obstacles out of danger and to give spectators, such as parents, a place to watch.
“There’s no sitting areas at the skatepark,” Dorsey said. “It can be a safety hazard.”
NEO would also want to add trash cans to discourage littering.
“Every day I go to the park I pick up trash,” Dorsey said. “There is a sense of ownership of the park by the older guys who respect it and care for it.”
While the idea of NEO coming in could clean up the park in more ways than one, the organization has yet to formally create a proposal for the city’s parks and recreation department to consider. Ultimate approval would also be needed by the city council, whose members have shown previous support of NEO’s initiatives.
“These aren’t Mount Everest (challenges) — they are hills,” Kiser said. “If it provides additional recreational opportunities that the city can’t provide because of funding cuts, that is something we would be interested in.”
To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4236.
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