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Finding options for a skate park site

Marnie Gavit stirred up quite a hornet’s nest at the end of January when she said La Jolla needs a skate park — suggested the Recreation Center on Prospect Street might be a good place.

Her call to find a place where La Jolla’s youngsters can skate without it being on the streets and sidewalks or the walls of homes is a great idea, and it’s one that needs serious consideration. Others have talked about La Jolla’s youths needing more places than beaches to hang out at (heck, they don’t even have a movie theater they can get to easily), so Gavit’s concern isn’t something that should come as a surprise to anyone.

We have to ask two questions: Could local young people benefit from having a skate park in town? Answer: Yes. Is the Rec Center the right place? Answer: It’s (a) sheer lunacy or (b) right on the money. That answer prompts more questions.

Why would you sacrifice land surrounded by residences and churches (and a school) for an attraction that would draw noisy young people? What would it do to the quality of life in the Village?

On the flip side, La Jolla Parks & Recreation Inc. is in the process of developing a master plan aimed at defining how to better utilize the 3.76-acre facility (counting the tennis club). Seems like a fitting time to figure out if a skate park would be known as the “highest and best use” for a piece of the property.

Would a skate park that might keep large numbers of youths occupied in a limited space be a better use than a basketball court or a small softball field? Is the center for people of all ages, or just the community groups and seniors who use the meeting spaces and toddlers on the playground?

If the answer is that the Rec Center isn’t the right spot, then what is? Several have commented, including Community Planning Association Chairman Joe LaCava, that perhaps Decatur School — now home to a couple of private schools — could be an alternative. What other possibilities are out there?

It wouldn’t have to be a mega-park, but rather one that will serve our youth without attracting an outside crowd — and save parents a drive to Ocean Beach, Clairemont or Carmel Valley.

Let’s put our thinking caps on and do as Gavit suggests: Engage the community in the discussion and see if there’s a creative way to fill this need. La Jolla is full of bright and committed people. Usually, when they have the will, they’ll find a way.