Source: Philadelphia Daily News
Date: May 31, 2003
Byline: Carla Anderson
Mariano: Let the kids skateWants Street to Rethink Ban
MAYBE IT'S just because he has a teenage, skateboarding son.
But Councilman Rick Mariano is breaking his record of reliable support for Mayor Street to call for a general reconsideration of whether LOVE Park should be open to skateboarders.
"It is my hope that you will recognize that LOVE Park can be shared by both the skateboarders and other users," Mariano wrote in an open letter to Street yesterday. "At the very least we owe it to ourselves to have an open and public debate about whether or not to allow skateboarding at LOVE Park before enacting yet another punitive measure aimed at our kids."
Finally, someone in City Hall is making sense on this issue.
"As I continue to learn about the international popularity of LOVE Park, it begs the question, why continue the ban?" Mariano asked.
Mariano's letter follows a City Council move toward increasing fines for kids caught skateboarding, a decision made in response to building owners who complain that LOVE Park skaters have simply moved onto their property, causing expensive damage.
It also followed yesterday's press announcment by mayoral candidate Sam Katz that, if elected, he would reopen LOVE Park to skateboarders.
Mark Nevins, spokesman for Street's re-election campaign, could not say yesterday whether Street would consider a public debate on the issue, but did say LOVE Park is for the public and not a sport park.
The usually loyal Mariano said yesterday he thinks most Council members "just don't get it."
"I think it's a generational thing. They just don't realize that this is the sport that this group of kids chooses. It wasn't our sport. But you can't pick it. It's what they want.
I'm thrilled to hear that someone on Council believes it's possible to protect property without demonizing a whole generation of teenagers.
"We care about property, and we want everyone to behave, but we've got to have somewhere for these kids to go," he said. "Let's give them the venue of this world-class skatepark, and then crack down on the other, private property in the city."
And besides, as Mariano said, the sport's big business.
"We could make the visitor's center a pro shop, and sell skateboards with John Street's face on it," Mariano quipped. "I would buy one."
And you know what?
I would too.