WORDS Daco Fernandes
In case you weren’t aware, the skatepark that was bizarrely situated on the New North Quay closed earlier this year due to some idiots ruining it for everybody else. These idiots were not skate boarders though, just straight up, bona fide, bored muppets.
There was an expected amount of uproar within the skate community but it just seemed like another loss for the people of Jersey and that was all we could do about it… Get a bit upset… Boo-bloody-hoo. Steve Harben, Longtime skater and owner of Warriors Skateboards gets a slot on BBC radio and he gets his voice heard. He is quite rightly miffed at the closure. Some politicians take note and some discussions are had. A meeting is decided for the public to air their views on the matter. Things are happening. Then it seems that Steve Pallett, Constable of St Brelade, drops the ball by appointing an outside consultant to come in to deal with things. Typical… More money wasted before we’ve even started. But… Did he really drop the ball though?
Considering that he contacted the local skate community after speaking to the “Ports of Jersey” (who wanted the park shut down for various reasons) he then set up a public meeting and by the time the meeting had even been held, Mr Pallett had also been in discussion with several consultants about how to move forward with the situation. I’m not so sure he dropped the ball at all, in fact, it seems he may well have been the only one quick enough to catch the thing. Whilst everyone else was wondering which carpark to abscond to, this geezer is talking to all sorts of locals and non-locals to get things moving in a positive direction. People always accuse politicians of jumping on bandwagons (I certainly do) when there are elections coming up – “how can this guy, who’s never skated, possibly understand what the skateboarders need?” Exactly – he can’t. Most of the people that we need to help get us an appropriate site and funding will most likely have no idea of what skateboarding means to millions of people around the world, so what? I have no idea what it is to be a homeless person but there are certainly things within my power that I can do to help. No-one should be shouting at me saying “back off, you’re not homeless you’re doing this for your own self interest” – that would be insane. Empathy is something seriously lacking in this world, and if there is ever a chance to let it show, then let it show.
The users of the skatepark need the public behind them, they need supporters from all walks of life to get behind them and show some solidarity. The future riders of the park will be future voters. Wouldn’t it be great to show them that the system can work in their favour if they try hard enough? If everyone supported each other when times got tough, if everyone of us stood united for a common cause; what sort of message could this send out to everyone watching? There is such a high level of apathy within our local community, isn’t it now time to teach the ‘youth’ that amazing things can be achieved with a coordinated effort? I don’t want my own children to waste their time believing that ‘nothing can be done’, thinking ‘what’s the point? They never listen to us’. I have spent over a quarter of a century following this rhetoric and I don’t want my kids or anyone else’s to waste their time on such negative views. One day, these young people will be of an age where their votes will make a huge difference. In all likelihood, they will remember the time that the public stood with them in creating a life changing facility that helped to shape them into the sort of human beings every society wants. They will then stand up against the injustices of the day and support whatever movement needs their support because they might not be the bitter disenfranchised public that we are today.
The Jersey Skateparks Association is currently being formed – be part of it, make your voice heard.