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Bill Felter began skateboarding at age eight, but it wasn't until his family moved to Florida four years later that skating took on a more important role.

"Having never played team sports, skateboarding provided a way to make new friends in a new surrounding," Bill recalls. "Skateboarding provided a community that was welcoming and without competitive machismo. I didn't have to be 'good' to be accepted. All I had to do was skate."

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Bill returned to Maryland, attended Overlea High School, served in the Army, graduated from Towson University, and then settled down with his wife, Lynnelle, in Anneslie, several years ago. Raising a young daughter, they love the neighborhood's walkable streets and great schools. After a 10-year hiatus, Bill broke out his board …and realized that Towson lacks good places in which to skate.

Last summer, Bill was inspired by Stephanie Murdock and the Skatepark of Baltimore Group. The group had partnered with city, state and local officials, plus volunteers, donors, and community associations, to create an awesome, free, public skateboarding facility in Hampden. Bill wants to bring that kind of success (on a smaller scale) to Towson.

His proposal would use marginal space in an existing community park to transform a dedicated area of approximately 5,000 square feet into a modern "skatespot." Initially, he thought Overlook Park, in Idlewylde, would be perfect.

But there are other nearby parks, including Forge Park and Glendale Park, with unused spaces — including basketball courts where the rims have been purposely removed by the county — that could be converted. The skatespot design would be aesthetically pleasing and made from poured concrete, which is durable and quiet. The site could serve skateboarders (and scooter and bike riders) of all ages in the surrounding neighborhoods.

Bill and another neighbor, Lee Synkowski, presented the proposal at a Towson Recreation Council meeting June 28. The council suggested they contact Towson's County County representative, David Marks, about creating a larger, regional park. But a large facility is not what they are seeking. They will try again at a Nov. 1 meeting at Rodgers Forge Elementary School.

In the meantime, Bill and his fellow skaters want to foster community support and dialogue. They've started a Facebook group, "Friends of the Overlook Park Skate Spot," as a means of communication and information. If you agree that this project could benefit Towson, you are encouraged to write or call your elected officials and County Council members.

"The biggest obstacle is changing the public's perception," Bill says. "For years, skateboarders have had a bad reputation, much of which can be attributed to having no place to skate. Many people still view skateboarders as unruly, destructive teenagers but that definition is outdated. Of the 10 or so skateboarders on my street, half of them are parents in their 30s and 40s. They're realtors, fund managers, lawyers, chefs, business owners."

Many of those skaters want to share this pastime with their kids as a fun, healthy, outdoor activity. From any walk of life, at any age, anyone can be a skateboarder, if given a place and a chance.

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