Thursday, September 29, 2011

City looks for teen-friendly places to play

Photo by Ron Wilmot
The City of Palmer recently posted this sign at the A-Moose-Ment Park 
By Zaz Hollander
Post reporter
The teenage invasion is familiar to anybody who's taken their kids to Palmer's A-Moose-Ment Park.
There are rambunctious boys climbing the castle walls and doing flips across the wood chips as part of their Parkour routines while toddlers waddle past. You can't miss the throng of teens turning the air blue with cigarette smoke and language under the covered pavilion. Or the girls in the swings until an adult warns them to watch their mouths, and they decide to go someplace else.

Thing is, where do they go?
That's a question the City of Palmer is trying to answer.
Finding a place for teenagers and young adults to play is part of the city's ongoing Parks, Trails and Recreational Fields Master Plan.
The city will hold a community meeting from 8:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. today (Thursday, Sept. 29) and Friday at the city fire training center.
The process involves a lot more than youth facilities. Topics range from trails and river access to playing fields, which are in short supply. To review the city's planning efforts so far, go  here. 

But one of the needs that surfaced during a consultant's survey earlier this year was a teen-friendly park to shoot hoops or pedal around a pump track, said Palmer's community development director, Sandra Garley. A pump track, by the way, is a place where bicyclists cruise around a course filled with berms and rollers. It's not a BMX track, insists Ed Kessler, a 26-year-old who's hoping to work with the city on a pump track for Palmer. The goal is to not pedal, and the activity ends up being a great core workout, said Kessler, who co-owns a trail construction company. 
Given his business, Kessler has a clear interest in getting a pump track built in Palmer. He also comes armed with a striking statistic: about a third of Palmer residents are under 18, according to the last U.S. Census. "That's a large demographic that's not being covered in our recreation areas," he said.
What form any new teen-friendly park will take has yet to be decided, Garley said. The city does have a skate park, though it's drawn some criticism for design and access problems.

Garley said she did hear from Kessler, who proposed putting a pump track next to the A-Moose-Ment Park. But, she said, the city is trying to keep kids and teens separated.
A sign now informs users that the park is for children only -- little ones, in the under-12 range.
While police say they don't field many calls about trouble at the park, the city does get some complaints - "my kid doesn't feel comfortable swinging around the big kids," that sort of thing - that prompted officials to take action.  There have also been cases of vandalism, including problems with the port-a-potties, though city officials say they can't pin the blame on teens.
"It's just a continual struggle  for the littler kids and their moms when the teenagers come in," Garley said. "It's not overt. Nobody got beat up by a teenager. They have louder music, they have rowdier games. The park really was designed for littler ones."

Let us know what you think: Does Palmer need another teen hang-out? And where should it go?


Anonymous said...

I grew up in Kenai where they have a Teen Rec. Center. They might have some ideas of what works and what doesn't. They may have articles on it in the Peninsula Clarion?

Anonymous said...

I think that parkour is perfectly fine as long as they watch out for young ones.

Anonymous said...

We are careful around young ones and that is our first rule anytime we go there,adults do not mind and there has never been a accident due to parkour or related to parkour and there never will be this patois is our home to and we are aware of youngsters around. What the city should be worried about is the adults cursing around their own children and others around them we are not the problem

Anonymous said...

This guy is right if you want us to parkour somewhere else than build us a gym. If not then well good luck taking us alive

Anonymous said...

I feel that if you are going to build a parkour gym then make it big because nobody will parkour there if there's no space