Saturday, November 12, 2005
Teenagers are not welcome in Steamboat! This is how my family felt when we read the City Council was considering an ordinance restricting people from riding skateboards on city streets. My son feels so unwelcome that he wants to move. The city of Steamboat Springs will spend millions on tennis, golf, skiing, hockey and baseball fields, but when the teenagers that don't fit into or can't afford to belong in one of these groups and ride their skateboards on the streets, you want to fine them $25, $50 and more. This is my son's means of transportation and exercise all in one, and I think it's a great sport. These skateboarders are our children, and they should have just as much right as a person on a bicycle or a horse.
I know more skateboarders are on the streets now, and we're not used to seeing them, but we share the road with bicycles, and we should do the same for the skateboarders.
We need a teen/recreation center near our new covered concrete skate park. If the skate park is next to the teen/recreation center, our young skaters will have adults nearby, and this will cut down on drug and alcohol use at the park. An indoor skate park would be even better, but I know that will never happen.
I think the teen/recreation center needs things such as pool tables, air hockey, a good sound system, food, a big-screen TV for movie nights, smaller TVs with Xbox or PS2 games (you can connect three TVs so 12 people can play at one time), a karaoke machine, a dance floor and a stage for bands to perform.
The battle of the bands at the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel has shown us that we have many talented local bands that need a place to practice and play. We might even want to consider a boxing and workout area. I know a lot of our teenage boys love to box, and I would much rather have them boxing with gloves and some guidance from an adult than bare-fisted in a field or parking lot, as they do now.
Just think, between the boxing and Xbox games alone, you could have 14 teenagers with a place to go. I've had as many as 10 boys at my house playing Xbox, and they had a great time. But these are ideas from an adult. If we want the teens to use the teen center, we need to get the teens involved, and we need to be sure and ask the teens that are hanging out on the streets with no place to go. The name "Teen Center" doesn't sound very cool, so we should have the teens name it, as well.
Are you tired of our kids just hanging out and doing who knows what? Before we judge or condemn them, we need to look at what choices we've given our teens. Isn't it time we gave them a place to go after the sun sets? Teens are young adults and want to be around other young adults, and it is up to us to give them a safe place to go. If we don't and some of them die because they couldn't find anything better to do but drink and drive, we'll have no one to blame but ourselves.
City Council members, you say you care about our teens, but do you care enough to do something to help? Don't fine them for riding their skateboards on our city streets; give them a place to go.