The Feb. 1 fire that destroyed YMCA Chesley Skate Park robbed many young people of a vital and welcoming space. My sons were active skateboarders and skate park regulars, and they, their friends and skate park staff invariably spoke of Chesley Skate Park as a home away from home.
As a “skate parent,” I can attest to how much Chesley Skate Park meant to my sons and many other kids. I can attest that skating is great fun and develops kids physically, while the relationships built during skating develop them socially.
I can attest that the skate park provided a supervised, safe and positive environment for kids and youth. And I can attest that the loss of Chesley Skate Park was devastating for my sons, their friends, other kids and youth, and even young adults, around the Mankato area.
The first weekend after the fire, my sons and their friends went on two trips to Twin Cities area skate parks. For upcoming weekends, more Twin Cities trips are planned, with parents rotating driving responsibilities.
And though skating outdoors is an option in better weather, it is decidedly not an option in this unusually harsh winter. Based on this, I can attest (most emphatically of all) that an indoor skate park in the Mankato area is indispensable to my sons, other kids and the community.
Now, suddenly, the nearest indoor skateparks are in the Twin Cities area. I and other “skate parents” fervently hope that the disastrous fire of Feb. 1, so painful to so many in the short term, will result in a new, hopefully bigger and better, indoor skate park in the long term.