Bridge Views

"Anyone who has trouble believing that ideas have the power to shape human behavior should have been at Oak Harbor’s new skate park last Saturday.Architect Terry LeDesky supervised loosely while around 20 Oak Harbor Rotarians — a mix of businesspeople, public officials, local politicians — gave up the early part of an Apple Cup game day to work on 700 feet of new fence around the park’s perimeter.Meanwhile, up in the smooth concrete swales of the park itself, welder Don Hedstrom worked a 1-1/4-inch plate of steel — a castoff deflector shield from the Navy base — into shape to support a future skateboard ramp. The plate will support the ramp’s concrete. The concrete, in turn, will hold the names of a long list of people who have given $100 or more to aid the park’s progress so far.The fact that the park’s sodden fields were one of the hottest tickets in town Saturday — judging from the number of kids and Rotarians who turned out to work on it — is testimony to the vision that LeDesky and his teen-age associates have conjured there.The skate park started as a glimmer of an idea a few years ago among a group of kids who were tired of getting chased from point to point to pursue their hobby. It has grown well beyond that now, LeDesky said Saturday, into a sort of a community bonding experience that combines the act of building concrete ramps with the act of building a community itself.What does that mean?The skate park has become a rallying point of sorts. Have a group that wants to do something (pardon the pun) concrete for kids? There’s an outlet for your time and money. Want to give kids a tangible project they can work to support? You see them in every parade, and standing in front of shopping centers on any given weekend, raising funds. Want to teach kids something about public projects, and the process that puts them in place? Guide them through the open visioning and design process, and the political process, as LeDesky has done, and help them find how wide the route to success can be.Finally, dare to dream beyond your means.The skate park that exists today has gone farther faster than LeDesky or anyone else might have hoped when ground was broken less than two years ago. It continues to grow, as luck, volunteer time and recycled materials come its way.And there’s a dream to guide its progress. In the muddy ground that abuts the current site, LeDesky envisions a canopied concrete amphitheater rising someday — a place to stage professional skating events, Shakespeare in the park, youth theater ...“We’re gonna be a world class harbor someday,’’ LeDesky said, smiling at the handiwork Saturday.Call it architecture in action — it’s a fun thing to see.David Fisher is editor of the News-Times."

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