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Mailbag: Incivility at skate park meeting shocking

May 14, 2013

I am a resident of a neighborhood adjacent to Arch Beach Heights. I attended the informational meeting regarding the proposed skate park at Moulton Meadows Park.

While valid points were made by opponents of the skate park concept, some residents who spoke were perversely misinformed about what public skate parks are and who uses them — as well as the distinction between downhill speed skating and the type of skating that takes place in a typical skate park.

Rather than pursuing that conversation or expressing my opinion about the feasibility of a skate park at Moulton Meadows, I primarily wanted to talk about how saddened and shocked I was by the lack of civility demonstrated by some of the opponents of the skate park concept and their complete unwillingness to listen to other points of view or to learn anything specific about the project.

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A number of people present at the meeting were extremely disrespectful and hostile toward anyone who attempted to speak in favor of the skate park idea, to the point where some residents were not even able to finish making their comments. Most upsetting to me was the fact that verbal abuse was even directed at a few of the children who spoke, some as young as 6 years old.

Aside from showing a complete lack of common decency, what kind of example does this set for young people regarding community involvement and the potential to have a healthy, reasonable dialogue about neighborhood issues? I brought my kids to the meeting thinking they would learn something about civic action, and instead I was embarrassed that they had to witness such an immature, irrational and selfish display by adults.

Regarding the representatives of the Tony Hawk Foundation who were present at the meeting, they volunteered their valuable time, energy and resources, with no motivation at all apart from helping the city create a safe and suitable place for kids to skate. The THF board members who spoke were extremely deferential to the neighborhood residents, yet shockingly they too were the targets of much hostility.

I view Laguna Beach as a place where tolerance, open-mindedness and diversity are part of the community fabric. What I witnessed at Moulton Meadows was exactly the opposite of this, and frankly it made me a bit ashamed.

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