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In the News Index

Source: Philadelphia Daily News
Date: August 22, 2003
Byline: Carla Anderson


Street reaches out to skateboarders

PROMISING A "truly world-class" new skateboard park on the banks of the Schuylkill River, Mayor Street yesterday took a moment during a scheduled press conference to share his thoughts about the sport.

"I know a little bit about the sport, how popular it is, and we believe there is a great market for it in this area," Street said. "It is a real sport, the people who do it are real athletes and they are very serious."

Street added that he's not ruling out the idea of reopening LOVE Park to skateboarders under a compromise plan worked out by some of the city's young activists.

"We don't see this as a reason to say, okay, we aren't going to talk about LOVE Park," Street said. "What they have suggested is a nice concept, but it does raise some serious challenges. So we will continue to have a dialogue about it."

As a longtime advocate of the plan to re-open LOVE Park, I say thank you, Mayor Street.

Yesterday's press conference was more than a public pronouncement of support for a sport that's taken a political beating in the past two years.

It was a welcome glimpse into the head of a man who has sometimes seemed deaf on the issue.

Street, charming the crowd of skateboard enthusiasts with his detailed descriptions of area skate parks, explained that he learned about the sport through his 15-year-old son, Akeem, who once had a passion for it.

"I'm still throwing out beat- up, old skateboards," Street joked. He added that he'd spent many hours at various skating venues, waiting for his son and "reading his mail."

Even more important, Street said he understands that skateboarding's not just for kids, and that some adults "make a very handsome living" off the sport.

That, he said, is why he wants the skate park he's planning for the banks of the Schuylkill River to be "truly world-class, on a par with the Kimmel Center, the National Constitution Center, and our new sports stadiums."

So while Street has yet to say he'll welcome skateboarders back to LOVE Park, he's clearly making an effort to reach out to the generation that embraces the sport, the same generation that will be so important to the future of our city.

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