Lakritz: Edgemont skateboard park would be hell on wheels

Surprise, surprise. You actually can fight city hall and win, if not a total victory, at least a reprieve from some new insanity being inflicted on your neighbourhood.

More than 500 people in the northwest community of Edgemont have signed a petition to keep the city from building a permanent skateboard park near their houses. Good for them. Who the hell wants a skateboard park close to their homes? The Edgemont Community Association begs to differ, however. It supports the park. That’s its prerogative, of course.

But you don’t have to be a curmudgeonly geezer — the kind who yells out his window, “Hey, you kids, get off my lawn!” — to object to a skateboard park. You only have to be a young mother trying to get a colicky baby to nap or seeking some rest herself, a shift worker who needs to sleep during the day, a patient convalescing from surgery who needs some peace and quiet, or just someone who wants to sit out on their deck and enjoy the songs of birds in nearby trees.

If a skateboard park is built near your house, you risk being driven mad by the incessant clack-clack-clack of skateboard wheels hitting concrete — not to mention the air being turned a vivid blue by the foul language coming from many of the park’s teenage users. Risk being driven mad? Correction. You will be driven mad.

Zev Klymochko, who founded the Calgary Association of Skateboarding Enthusiasts, said “noise is so not a factor because you’ve got football, baseball, shinny hockey, tennis, a playground, a busy 70-kilometre roadway adjacent to the park. Noise isn’t an issue.”

Football, baseball, tennis, etc., are played for a couple of hours at most. Then, the game ends, everybody goes home and silence descends. As for the playground aspect, everyone knows playgrounds are pretty much devoid of kids these days. And yes, John Laurie Boulevard is right nearby, but the residents knew that when they bought their homes there.

The problem is not periodic noise, which is inevitable in any urban area. The problem is repetitive noise. Listening to that constant clacking of wheels-on-concrete all day, and likely far into the night, given teens’ typically unholy hours of activity, is akin to listening to a sidewalk being jackhammered by a worker who never goes home. The only recourse a resident has is to pray for rain so the skateboarders will stay away.

Repetitive noise torments people because it creates the miserable feeling that there is no escape from it. That’s why Chinese water torture is so successful.

People are entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of their own property; they do not deserve to have the quiet of their homes shattered by the irritating clack-clack, clack-clack, clack-clack of wheels hitting concrete, for hours on end. You couldn’t sit on your deck to read in summer without that incessant clacking penetrating your brain and preventing you from focusing on your book.

And you’d probably have to keep all your windows closed on beautiful summer days in a vain effort to mute that horrible noise. Property values will likely be driven down as well by the presence of the skateboard park; after all, who would buy a house next door to a noise that mimics nails being driven into your brain?

Thankfully, the residents have gotten a reprieve — the city’s recreation department will rethink the idea in about three months and check out other locations in Edgemont. Somewhere near a more commercial, open area would be the best choice.

There’s already enough noise in suburban areas, with Weed Whackers being fired up early on Sunday mornings, DIY home renovators sawing and hammering a multitude of projects in their garages, motorbikes cutting a swath through the 2 a.m. stillness, ghastly rap music blasting from passing cars, dogs barking during their 5 a.m. backyard pee breaks, and much more. All those noises are of fairly short duration, though. The clack-clack-clack of skateboard wheels will just go on forever.

Naomi Lakritz is a Herald columnist.

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