Frankly, a year ago, when we first heard of Jason Forslund's suggestion that the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority build a skate park in Atlantic City, we grimaced.
Really? Skateboarders and BMX riders are going to save the city? The skating and BMX culture is not exactly what you would call a traditional draw in a casino town.
Plus, skate parks have rarely worked in the towns that have built them. Vandalism, rowdiness and other misbehavior have caused most of those towns to close the skate parks they built.
But we are beginning to think that Forslund, a 26-year-old tattoo artist from Ventnor who has been pushing the skate-park idea for more than a year, is on to something.
Particularly, especially - and perhaps only - if the CRDA follows through on the current plan to put the skate park on an empty lot adjacent to the Tanger Outlets at The Walk.
CRDA Executive Director John Palmieri seems to get it. "We don't want it to be stuck in some corner of an unused part of the city," he has said.
But apparently some on the CRDA committee that has vetted the idea think that the lot near The Walk is potentially too valuable a commercial property to be used as a skate park. So while the CRDA has approved the concept, there is a search under way for another site.
This is a case where the skaters may actually have a better handle on the redevelopment of the city than the professionals. As several of them noted in letters to the editor Monday, having a supervised, professionally managed skate park in the middle of a busy part of the city, with The Walk's restaurants and shops right there, would create a great synergy. One parent could watch the children skate while another shopped. The whole family could go out to eat afterward. Not to mention the easy access to and from the train station - skaters from all over South Jersey could easily get to this park.
But, as Forslund said, "If you moved this thing even five blocks away, I could see parents saying, 'There's no way I'm taking you there.'"
The currently proposed location seems perfect to us - perfect for skaters, perfect for the city, perfect for The Walk.
Sure, using a skate park to draw people to the city is an unusual, edgy, risky idea. But again, as Forslund said back in November (he's a quotable guy), "You're starting a culture right there, you're starting a scene ... that's something that Atlantic City doesn't have and totally could."
And if the proposed $850,000 skate park doesn't work out? The investment is not huge. The skate park can be dismantled, and the lot can be used for something else.
But if you ask us, a skate park in that location is worth a try.