Ward 3 Skate Refuge

By Warren Bujol

 

It almost feels like Lake Charles has always had a 20,000 sqft public skate park, designed by Clayton Hebert and Chapman Farber, but it hasn't; it was 10,000 sqft until the other day...and it didn't exist at all before 2009. It's located on Power Center Parkway, right next to the tennis courts/weight room/indoor track/basketball court/playground/soccer and baseball fields/etc. and it's all brought to you by the wonderful folks at Ward 3 Recreation District. When I was a kid, skateboarding was a pretty big part of my life...well, it was pretty much all of my life. It was probably one of the best choices I have ever made; I didn't have time for drugs, boy-bands, or making babies before I was old enough to drive. I just wanted to skate. Unfortunately, skateboarding was a crime back in those days, and there were no designated areas for us to be radical.

 I spent most of my youth in Dallas/Fort Worth, but on the depressing side. It was the kind of place that made you appreciate the little things in life, if you know what I mean. But if you could overlook the "probably-going-to-be-murdered-or-overdose-on- drugs" aspect, you'd see it was a skateboarder's paradise. It was geographically never-ending and full of ledges, stairs, rails, and gaps. Even still, the closest skate park we had was Rapid Revolutions in Irving (about 40 minutes from my home) and the only means of transportation we had were our skateboards that were capable of getting us there in 6 hours or so; if we weren't eaten by crack heads on our way. So we did what any cannibalistic-crack head fearing kids would do; we skated everywhere that posted a "no skateboarding" sign. We couldn't read back then*, but we knew those signs meant, "great spot for skating". We'd wake up early, wax ledges and rails and repeatedly throw ourselves off staircases until we landed a few attempts, heading home only when someone broke a board. On any occasion that we weren't chased off by cops/security guards, we were attacked by roving gangs of older kids who had never been hit in the face with a skateboard before. It was a give and take relationship.


 

 Looking back, I'd estimate that if my city would've spent a fraction of the money it cost to make no skateboarding signs, they could've built several public skate parks. It seems though, that until the Tony Hawk Pro Skater game series thrust our passion into the mainstream, we were considered pre 9-11 terrorists (Rest easy, Hans Gruber), and as you know, negotiating with terrorists wasn't acceptable until Obama's second term. Just imagine all the security guards who could've had uninterrupted naps on their golf carts, or the cops who could've been solving actual crimes, or the bullies who could've learned life-lessons on their own if the city had just spent a tiny bit of money on some concrete and rails. Lake Charles, while much less dangerous than DFW, lacks the skate-able terrain of a larger city. The spread-out landscape and lack of "no skateboarding" signs leaves skateboarding as an impractical choice for kids looking for a hobby. 

Fortunately for skaters here, Lake Charles cares enough about its youth to build something for them to scrape their elbows and sprain their ankles on. When I first visited the Ward 3 skate park, it was like looking at a miniature replica of downtown Fort Worth; it has ledges, stairs, rails, possibly a bowl and every other form of sloped concrete you could imagine. The only thing missing is a Whataburger, but overall, it is an impressive location and I can only imagine that it will be put to good use. 


 

I'm old enough to drive so I have kids, and my skateboards are primarily used to clutter my office, but I still make every attempt to maintain an active lifestyle. Luckily, that active lifestyle doesn't take much effort with the help of Ward 3. Since 2004, Ward 3 Recreation District has worked tirelessly to establish, acquire, construct, improve, extend, and maintain recreational parks and facilities for the benefit of all citizens, even me. To be honest, I had no idea just how recreational Lake Charles was until I spoke with Ward 3 Recreation Executive Director, Kip Texada. 

Photo from http://extreme.com

According to Kip, Lake Charles is extra-recreational. So-much-so, that in addition to the skate park and recreational sports leagues (soccer, baseball, basketball, tennis, etc.), he and his team have been busy renovating current facilities and making plans for the addition of several others, such as: an aquatic center with 25 yard swimming pool and therapeutic pool (similar to SPAR), a bike park, a racquetball court, and slightly-less-exciting outdoor restrooms at the Power Center location. Kip and his team will stop at nothing to provide a lot of something for everyone. He might not have said it in those exact words, but it was implied. He did say; however, Ward 3 owes its success to, and appreciates the support of the community. Our input and patronage are a vital component of Ward 3's survival, and if we want to see more, we're going to have to speak up. To learn much more about Ward 3 Recreation District, visit lcward3recreation.com


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