By Ken Martin

OLD COLUMNISTS NEVER DIE: When I stopped writing this column on a regular basis back in December of ’07, I figured that was the end. I did write a couple more columns since then but not on any kind of schedule. But I guess the Forum readers are a loyal lot.

It seems like everywhere I go anymore I hear, “We miss your column”, or “We enjoyed your column”, or “Are you ever going to write again?”. Actually I never intended to resume but it is hard not to respond. Ego? Maybe. But here I am again but not on the two-a-month regimen that I sustained before. Probably 1.4 columns per month or something like that.

I stopped writing because my personal time distribution had changed and I had very little time for writing. My time availability hasn’t changed but I can probably squeeze out one-plus columns per month on an irregular basis as worthy items emerge.

So here I am!!

BEAUTY SPOT: For those of you that may not have been on San Miguel Avenue recently, we now have a beautiful new park at the Adobe Art Center. It is the result of a joint effort between Hayward Area Parks and Recreation District and Castro Valley Unified School District. The facility is largely on school property but was built by HARD.

It has something for almost everybody. Amenities include a skateboard park, picnic areas, a playground and sandbox,  bocce courts, a huge lawn area, a YMCA building, and restrooms  - everything a nice community park needs.

I have to assume that this park in general, and the skateboard area in particular, is, at least in part, in response to the constant lament by parents and children that “There is nothing for the kids to do here” and “We need a skateboard park”.

So now we have a facility that should provide the “kids” with “something to do”. And it has been successful. So far it has given them the opportunity to graffiti the skateboard area and the YMCA building, tear down the park rules signs, damage the drinking fountain, tear up the bocce courts with their bikes, and trample the newly planted shrubs – all this, I might point out, before the park was even opened and was still fenced. Unless there is something that I missed, the presence of the fence was a prima facie message to “KEEP OUT”.

Things have improved somewhat since the fence has been removed and the park is now open. These “kids” don’t have to face the stigma of climbing the fence to further damage the bocce courts and put more stupid graffiti on the premises. They have also added the activity of throwing trash, broken bottles, and empty cigarette packs around even though there are now several trash cans available.

Maybe I’ve been around too long. I was raised in a time when we tried to care for and preserve things that were put in place for our enjoyment. Now we give the “kids” something to do and they immediately do their best to destroy it. Parents, what kind of life lessons are you giving your children? Apparently not the lessons that they need if their activities in our beautiful new park are any indication!

This park belongs to all the citizens of our community. No one – repeat, no one - has the right to treat it the way these disrespectful vandals are doing.