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Viewpoint: Cottage Grove bike park is a field of dreams

We are compassionate regarding Scott Gardner’s opinion (“City’s bike park is dangerous eyesore,” April 30 viewpoint). This tax-paying homeowner expressed his concerns the new, still-under-construction BMX bike park near his home will decrease property values, is an eyesore in the neighborhood and is a danger to children. However, Mr. Gardner, we are appealing to you and others who may have this same concern and have not done their homework regarding both sides of the issue. Even in a legal case, the first one to speak seems right until the other party cross-examines their testimony. This gives rise to the adage about hearing both sides of a story before making a hasty decision.

My grandson attends Park High School as a junior who works part-time, studies, helps with caring for his younger sister, assists his parents around the house, does not smoke or drink, is not sexually active, and is a BMX aficionado. At 6 feet tall and weighing 185 pounds, he can fly off a ramp on a bike and execute a 360-degree turn in the air before hitting the ground. That’s like a triple Lutz on ice skates — a totally impossible gravity defying feat for someone his size. Birds of a feather flock together and he belongs to a “family” (that’s what they call themselves) of guys who are just as dedicated to the sport as he is. These are some of the most beautiful, dedicated, considerate encouraging young men I have ever met.

Studies have shown that not only does sports involvement create a positive body image for teens, which is an important part of healthy self-esteem, it also has a positive effect on academic performance and teen mental health.

It is estimated by Chance Glasford that a group of about 10 to 15 core adult volunteers were aided by almost 100 others who donated time, and five dedicated bikers plus another 20 teens have been involved in the impossible dream of a BMX park in Cottage Grove. We are talking hundreds and hundreds of adult and teen volunteer hours working together to make this happen. What kind of community bonding does something like this do to the participants, and to those who can have pride in their family of Cottage Grove residents? This park is unique in the Twin Cities and I believe can be an inspiration nationally to other teens, if it is publicized properly. What is being done here in Cottage Grove is groundbreaking in more ways than one.

Due to the rising popularity of BMX biking and the uniqueness and scarcity of true BMX-only bike parks, Cottage Grove will not be a place where the BMX park is an eyesore but rather a desirable attraction that will bring home purchasers with teenagers into the community, actually raising home values.

Please support the police who obviously are in favor of this park because they have to deal with the teens who have too much idle time. Plus the wonderful volunteers who were also teachers and tutors to the teens on this project, as well as the city government and our mayor. Let our teens reach the unreachable star in this impossible dream.

Barbara Rea is a Cottage Grove resident.