A bright idea: Lighting Bay's skatepark

Dan Overfield, 44, of Bay Village spearheaded the "Bright Idea" event and requested permission from the Bay Village City Council to light up the skatepark on April 11.

The Randy Stang Memorial Skatepark has been a popular fixture in Cahoon Memorial Park for nearly a decade. The skatepark itself is the result of many years of tireless public advocacy led by a middle school teacher, Lawrence Kuh, his students at the time, and many other community members who generously gave their time and efforts to see the project to its current state. I want to highlight the extensive advocacy required for the current skatepark because it represents a model that everyone can value.

Mr. Kuh, who was recognized for his work by the Bay Village Community Council as “Citizen of the Year” in 2010,  demonstrated to his class, and to his entire school, the importance of civic engagement, the importance of being prepared to defend a position, the ability to reach compromise and find common ground between those holding opposing values, and that of the extraordinary persistence often needed to reach one’s goals.

Whether or not a person cares for skateboarding, a completely American sport that will make its Summer Olympics debut in 2020, becomes irrelevant when one considers the value of the experience that Mr. Kuh and his group of supporters provided to our students during those years. I am very grateful that Mr. Kuh is one of our district’s many dedicated teachers.

Mr. Kuh and I have not always agreed about skatepark-related issues but I am today and always have been grateful to him and his team because our little skatepark is something I’d hoped for since my first advocacy experience in mid-1980s when our City Council at the time treated my inquiry as wildly absurd and trivial.

My children and I are frequent visitors to the skatepark and we have always wanted lights, especially during the months between September and April when many otherwise great evenings are ended by early sunsets.

The “Bright Idea” event held on April 11, in which a generator was set up to light the park for the evening, was designed merely to begin the discussion of bringing permanent lights to the skatepark – the only unlit recreational attraction in Bay Village. Encouraged by my children and following the example set by Mr. Kuh I met with City Council to seek formal permission for the event.

I am grateful to the City Council for considering and approving my idea and I am looking forward to the possibility of making lights a reality in the near future. I want to thank everyone who attended the event and I am especially grateful to my Council representative, Lydia DeGeorge, for her guidance during the process; Joey Strunk (one of Mr. Kuh’s students long ago) for designing the flyer; bringing lights and helping spread the word; Mindy Stroh and her family for loaning me a significant number of Christmas lights; John Paytosh; my parents and family; Lawrence Kuh; and every little kid who showed up and had fun.

I urge anyone, supportive or otherwise, to reach out to their City Council representatives so that this matter of lighting the skatepark can be properly considered and maybe even made a reality.

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Volume 10, Issue 8, Posted 9:49 AM, 04.17.2018