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April 26, 2011 > Letter to the editor: Council consideration of skatepark

Letter to the editor: Council consideration of skatepark

On April 12, the Fremont City Council voted for a $2 million public skatepark at a residential side of Central Park, on Paseo Padre, in spite the neighborhoods' suggestions for two alternative non-residential locations available within the Park area.

Watching that jovial meeting of like-minded politicians (doesn't anyone disagree on anything on this City Council?) patronize and belittle the neighbors' concerns, my interest turned to sadness, as I realized that I was sitting in a divided audience: neighbors on the left; skateboarders on the right; irreparably damaged by the City's neglect to involve both groups in the planning-the opinion of the skate store owner matters, but not that of the neighbors! Then I started thinking of a greater issue impacted by the Council's actions: Community!

The dictionary defines "Community" as a group of organisms or populations living and interacting with one another in a particular environment, affecting each other's abundance and evolution. Community constitutes the foundations of our human society; development and consequence for Community and common purpose distinguishes civil society from lawless amorphous masses. Back in the 5th-century BCE, the Greek philosopher Socrates advised that conflicts within society be resolved through rational reflection and dialogue (Dialectical Method) not Sophistry (invalid and misleading arguments).

In the 21st century, the City of Fremont redefines Community to that group of individuals practicing a common sport ("skatepark community"), while blatantly ignoring "neighborhood community," that group of citizens who reside across Central Park; who share social and emotional heritage, and financial responsibilities.

Fremont reinvents legal responsibility to Community: faced with the neighbors' lawsuit (that revealed poor planning and the lack of an Environmental Impact Assessment), the City rescinded their earlier vote, which canceled the lawsuit; then turned around and voted for it again. A fine example in civil discourse and responsible governance for our young skateboarders!

By refusing to consider all options, the Fremont City Council divided public opinion and turned one group against another. Medieval landlords buried humans in their castle's foundations for good luck. Fremont's sacrifice of a neighborhood for a skatepark leaves an entire Community standing on shaky ground.

Lilian Tsappa, PhD

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