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City Fights For 14th Street Skate Park
By Kurt Helin
Long Beach residents and politicians have come to the defense of the planned upgrades for the 14th Street Skate Park, something the city wants paid for by federal stimulus money and that came under attack from a Midwestern senator.
Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn last week released a report of what he called the 100 most unnecessary projects receiving federal stimulus dollars. On that list at number 96 is plans to refurbish the 14th Street Skate Park in Long Beach. His report said this $620,000 “facelift” was the case of a project that should be paid for locally getting foisted on the Federal Government.
There is currently a very popular skate park at 14th Street Park, and this upgrade is part of an overall effort to improve the park in one of Long Beach’s poorest and most needy neighborhoods.
First District Councilman Robert Garcia came out swinging to defend the plans.
“Despite Senator Coburn’s very visible opposition to federal spending on everything from bridges and wilderness protection to medical research and alternative energy, his state receives about $1.36 for every dollar it pays in Federal taxes, while California gets back just 78 cents on its tax dollar,” Garcia said. “In fact, Oklahoma receives from the Federal government approximately $1,000 more per person on average than does California. This is just more evidence that Tom Coburn is out of touch and that his grandstanding about the stimulus bill is worse than irrelevant — it’s patently hypocritical.”
City Manager Pat West said this project fit well within the definition laid out by the federal government for the “shovel ready” projects the federal stimulus bill was designed to help.
Long Beach Congresswoman Laura Richardson, who represents this area, also released a statement backing the work on the park.
“Local officials from the city of Long Beach and other municipalities from across the nation, including Republicans, have refuted Sen. Coburn’s report,” Richardson says in the statement. “The grant funding for the Long Beach Skate Park project was not submitted through my office, and specific projects are not individually approved by Congress. However, as a member of the Long Beach City Council for six years, I personally witnessed the benefits of skate parks in our community…
“Although skate parks are not traditional ‘brick and mortar’ projects, they do need concrete supplies, they do need individuals to build them, residents do use them and neighborhoods are improved by them eliminating vacant blighted lots.”
Garcia added that this skate park upgrade is needed.
“The Long Beach 14th Street Skate Park is an essential recreational facility for young people in one of the most vulnerable and densely populated areas in the country,” he said. “Residents have strongly advocated for the park for many years. The park will bring jobs and an improved quality of life to Long Beach, and offer positive activities to youth who might otherwise be left to fend for themselves on the streets. I’d like to personally invite Sen. Coburn to visit our community and to tell the kids who want and need this park why he wants to take it away from them.”
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