Katz Skatepark not worth skating

By David Ouellette

This essay comes partially as a response to an article published in the Sept. 26 Northern Star titled, “Skate park a concrete oasis for area boarders,” and partially as a long-overdue statement about skateboarding in DeKalb.

Although I am uncertain if the author of this article himself is an “area boarder,” his article seemed to lack perspective and promote a contradictory view of how most local skateboarders feel about the Katz skate park.

I, myself, have been skateboarding for 13 years now, and have lived and skated in DeKalb for the last five. I have known many local skateboarders – those who do and do not skate the Katz Park because of its poor planning and construction.

The concrete is not smooth, there are large cracks and dangerous drainage holes, the ramps lack any type of conventional transition, and overall, there are more obstacles that don’t make sense than ones that do.

Although over the years I have grown more sympathetic toward businesses and the threat of property damage from skateboarding, I see no reason why the Katz park should keep people from skating street spots on campus or downtown. Katz simply does not have the type of obstacles that many skateboarders are interested in, and the ones it does have, were shadily built by people who seem to have had no training in skate park construction; I believe the previous author referred to them as “in-house workers.” The city spent $75,000 to appease the skateboarders of DeKalb, and to them, that is enough. In reality, the city could have spent considerably less, and come out with a place that people would actually enjoy skating.

Furthermore, the city believes for some reason that they do not need to provide maintenance for the park. There is often broken glass, rocks, dirt, leaves and garbage scattered about, making it hard and dangerous to skate. And when the owner of the local skate shop requested that the city fix drain caps that were causing dangerous conditions, city workers filled the drains with concrete, so that now every time it rains, it takes days until the Katz park is completely dry.

Fundamentally, it is still a skate park. It is still a place for skateboarders to go, hang out and do what they love to do with people who share the same interest.

DeKalb skateboarders would love to be proud of our skate park, but due to its derelict state, we cannot be. Skateboarding is a dynamic art form; it is action, it is movement, it is style and it is a legitimate medium of self-expression for those who seek individuality, which should not be limited to, or hindered by, a poorly planned skate park.

David Ouellette

Graduate student, art history