Friday, December 18, 2009

MTV Star Rob Dyrdek's Amazing Safe Spot, Skate Spot Program

Dyrdek and the city of LA work together to keep kids safe:
Rob Dyrdek and the city of Los Angeles are 2-for-2 in giving skateboarders a place where they can ride challenging obstacles without getting chased away by the police.

Dyrdek, the pro skateboarder and MTV star, unveiled a $350,000 skate park Thursday that is the latest in his Safe Spot, Skate Spot program.

Dyrdek contributed $75,000 from his foundation and Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar came up with the rest of the funding for the 14,000-square-foot, tri-level skate plaza at Hollenbeck Park just east of downtown.

Tired of seeing street skateboarders treated as nuisances, the Midwestern-born Dyrdek started the Safe Spot, Skate Spot program to give them a legal place to ride handrails, ledges and stairs.

His first skate park, in Lafayette Park, was dedicated in February, when he and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa rode the world's largest skateboard, measuring 38 feet, 6 inches.

"They've bought into what I'm trying to do," Dyrdek said by phone. "I think conceptually, when you say, 'Hey, it's not that expensive. If you give me a little piece of it, I'll make a really cool, unique, skateable surface that enhances the park and looks gorgeous.' And even for all that, if skateboarding dies tomorrow, they still have this great plaza, and they can turn it into something else.
THIS is the future of skatepark design:
It's the idea of not putting just a fence around a bunch of bowls. It's designing and developing a really beautiful plaza that happens to be perfectly built for skateboarding. It's a necessity to the future of the sport that kids have a place to do it."
AP: Dyrdek unveils latest skate park

New Jersey: After Teens Testify, Linden City Council Votes to Open 2 Parks to Skateboarders

teens testify in front of Linden City Council
14 and 16 year-old teens testify at council meeting
LINDEN -- After years of debate over where to put a skate park in Linden, the city council voted to open two sites for boarders at a meeting this week.

First, the council decided to open James Dobson Park in the 3rd Ward to skateboarding on weekends. The park has a paved area and is located at East Blancke Street and Maple Avenue.

"It'll at least satisfy some of these kids and parents for a while," said council president Robert Bunk. “Let’s take care of these kids a little bit."

Councilman Robert Sadowski said the park would be opened "as a little early Christmas program."

But that didn't end the long-standing debate over the best location in town for kickflips, ollies and grinding.

"I don't think (a skate park) should be open in the 3rd Ward," said Councilman Derek Armstead. He said Wheeler Park, by West Stimpson Avenue and Route 1, would be a better choice.

Three teenage skateboarders who attended the meeting agreed with Armstead that Wheeler Park was the best spot. That site, which needs paving work, had county funding and approval a year ago, according to Armstead, but the park was never approved because of residents who didn’t want it in their neighborhood. After long debate, Linden could have two parks for skating

Tony Hawk Foundation Helps Poor Kids in Watts Get Skatepark

Skateistan wins Peace and Sport Award in Monaco

Skateistan is the first skateboarding school in Afghanistan. It engages urban youth through skateboarding and focuses on education, cross-cultural interaction, public health, social development, and creating opportunities for girls.

Australian skateboarder Oliver Percovich started Skateistan with nothing more than some used skateboards and a dream. The program changed the lives of many poor children in Kabul by giving them opportunities to teach skateboarding for money, whereas many of them had been begging in the streets. The kids started out skating busted, empty fountains, but today, Skateistan has an indoor skatepark that's the largest indoor sports facility in Kabul.

This program is having a profound impact on young girls in Afghanistan — skateboarding is the only public sport available to girls. And, they don't just teach skateboarding:
They will develop skills in skateboarding, skateboarding instruction, healthy habits, civic responsibility, information technology, the arts, and languages. The students themselves decide what they want to learn; we connect them with teachers who will enable them to develop the skills that they consider important.
Having changed so many childrens' lives so quickly, Skateistan so much deserves this award for promoting peace through sport:
Skateistan has been given the award for best non-governmental organization of the year in Monaco by the Peace and Sport Forum. In the presence of H.S.H Prince Albert II, Skateistan Executive Director Oliver Percovich received the award from Peace and Sport Director and former world champion Joel Bouzou. The 3rd annual forum and award ceremony was organized by the "Organization for Peace through Sport." Skateistan wins the Peace and Sport NGO of the Year Award in Monaco

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Skateboarding Monk in China

skateboarding monk
Photographs of a monk skateboarding inside a historic temple have caused controversy in China.

They were taken by a visitor to the Emei Mountain Temple, in Sichuan province, and posted on the internet, reports Huaxi Metropolis News.

The monastery stands near the top of Mount Emei - the highest of the Four Sacred Buddhist Mountains of China and the site of the country's first ever Buddhist temple.
Ananova: Skateboarding monk shocks China

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

More on the New Loudon County Skatepark

A skater's reaction to the new skatepark:
"This park is excellent," said skateboarder Steve Jefferson, 21, who has been involved with the project over the past year. "It's unlike any park I've ever been to. This park is definitely a modern-type skate park for this century. It has new features that are most likely not even in a street even, they are perfect for skateboarding."
On the collaboration between Loudon County and the South Riding Home Owner's Association:
"We had an agreement with the county where we would pay for it and then the county would take over maintenance and management of the park," said Jeff Salmon, president of the South Riding HOA. "It's effectively a gift from the HOA to Loudoun County."
Salmon on meeting the needs of older kids:
"We have a lot of resources for young children, but the older kids had little activities in the entire Dulles South area," he said. “"we determined this would be something the older kids would like and determined this was a need."
Involving skaters in the park's design:
Salmon said skateboarders and other members of the community were involved with the process all along.

"In July, we had a demo day for a skate park and let them vote on different designs and they actually selected the design we went with," he said. "We've received nothing but positive feedback."
Loudon Times: Skate Park opening in Dulles

Frederick, MD: Community Pitches in to Help Build Skatepark

Frederick County Commissioners amended the Middletown Park plan to allow a skate park to be built, and Pam Dietrik, a former skateboard mom, and skaters are helping to raise the funds to build the park.

From Paul Dial, director of the county's Parks and Recreation Department, and Drew Bowen, Middletown Town Manager:
"They want to go on the rails, they want to go on steps," Dial said. Skate parks can become a safe gathering place for young people.

"Times have changed and things have changed," Bowen said. Skate parks are not breeding grounds for disruptive youth doing nefarious activities.

Nearby properties are not harmed by the presence of skate parks, Dial said.

Injuries from skateboarding are far less than those from football and basketball, Bowen said, so insurance is not a problem. Skateboarders seek new home in Middletown

Restaurants, Bars, and Kids

While some folks in Silver Spring continue to obsess over restaurants and bars, the needs of kids continue to be ignored.

Loudon Homeowners Association Paid for Construction of Skatepark

Wow, what a difference in perspective:
"Kids have been chomping at the bit for this," said Claire Smith, spokeswoman for the Loudoun County Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Services.

The project was a joint venture between the county, which owns the land, and the South Riding Proprietary—the community’s homeowners association—which fronted the money to build the park.

"A lot of people in the county want things we just can't afford right now,”"Smith said, added that’s why "this has been such a great partnership."

Jeff Salmon, a member of South Riding’s board of directors, said the association had sought financial help from surrounding communities to build the park, but was unsuccessful. So it decided to pay for the entire project itself.

"We feel by providing this additional resource that we are adding value for all the homeowners of South Riding," Salmon said. First County-Owned Skate Park to Open Saturday

Chuck Crawford, New School Professor of Architecture, on Skateparks

In response to the battle brewing over a proposed skatepark at Watts Tower in LA:
A skate park at Watts Towers is a brilliant idea to promote and support the arts and I am perplexed that my fellow artists are expressing concern. They complain of noise? John Cage would be recording the music the skaters will make! If they were still alive, Andy Warhol would relocate the factory and Merce Cunningham would come to study the natural ballet that is skateboarding.

Drugs and gangs? No. You can't skateboard when on drugs; on the contrary, skate parks offer a relief and an alternative from drugs and gangs. Besides, this is not a rock club; skate parks are far from noisy. Graffiti? Skaters don't desecrate their homes.

One detractor is quoted as saying, "How would we feel about . . . a skate park in the vicinity of the Getty or LACMA?" What a great idea! We attract our youth for the athletics and encourage them to stay for the art. We should build skate parks next to every cultural institution.

As an artist and an educator, I have had numerous students who started with skateboards, moved on to punk and graduated into the arts. Build the park and "the two city-run arts centers" nearby will be flooded with young men and women who would have never come before seeking new outlets for their creative energy. Skateboarding is a creative, positive and, yes, artistic activity, and we gravely misunderstand its role when we label it destructive.

Build it and they will come. It may not produce a lot of tourist dollars, but there's little doubt that it will produce more than a few future artists.

Chuck Crawford

San Diego

The writer is a professor of architecture at the New School of Architecture and Design in San Diego and a part-time skateboarder.

Portland, Oregon: Video Of Skateboard Scuffle Sparks Investigation

Portland security guard swings a skateboard at a skater. While no Silver Spring skater has reported being hit with a skateboard, several have reported being physically attacked by security guards.
PORTLAND, Ore. -- A video showing a security guard fighting with a group of people in downtown Portland has sparked a city investigation.

The video shows a security guard grabbing a skateboard and swinging it at a man in Pioneer Courthouse Square.

Commissioner Nick Fish, who oversees city parks, released a statement Tuesday acknowledging the incident.

"On the evening of Nov. 25, 2009, Pioneer Courthouse Square security officers attempting to enforce park regulations were involved in an alteration with four individuals. One officer suffered minor injuries," Fish said.

The district attorney and parks bureau officials are investigating.
Fox 12 Oregon: Video Of Skateboard Scuffle Sparks Investigation

Thought for the Day

Passed along to me by my friend, New York poet Ola-Jendai Beluvid:
"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it."
— Uptown Sinclair

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sachs Scholar Josh Grehan Researching Skateparks and Crime

A very common source of opposition to skateparks is the perception that they increase crime in the areas they're built. Princeton senior and Sachs Scholar Josh Grehan is doing much-needed research, based on his hypothesis that skateparks can actually reduce crime:
Tienda is advising Grehan's senior thesis, in which he is examining how communities can use public spaces to help disadvantaged youth. Grehan is conducting research to support his hypothesis that skateboard parks can help reduce crime by providing constructive outlets for youngsters. Noting that those who oppose the building of such facilities often argue that skateboard parks lead to rising crime, he said, "If it turns out there is no connection [to higher crime], then one of the major impediments to the construction of skateboard parks will be removed."
Maxwell Billieon, an entertainment executive who joined with the City of Los Angeles to build a street plaza skatepark in Wilmington, California (one of the top five most dangerous communities in the city of Los Angeles) said that "crime in this area has now been reduced by 90% and the park averages about 250 skaters a day".

That's an amazing success story, and I'm convinced we'll be hearing more stories like this as more skateparks are built around the country. But the research Grehan is doing can provide scientific data to support what many of us have already seen — that skateparks have a powerfully positive influence in the communities where they're built.

News at Princeton: Grehan receives Sachs Scholarship

How Skaters Without Skateparks are Criminalized

It's not unusual for skateboarders without access to a skatepark, or to a safe and legal place to skate, to become involved with the criminal justice system for trespassing on private property. That's what happened to 15 year-old honors student Cameron Kennon from Bloomfield New Jersey, who was arrested and handcuffed, and had his skateboard confiscated:
Cameron Kennon, a 15-year-old honors student at Montclair High, was arrested last Wednesday for criminal trespass for skateboarding in a bank parking lot on Valley Road. Kennon was handcuffed and taken to the Montclair Police station, where his mug shot was taken and he was put in a cell for about an hour before his mother arrived. His skateboard was confiscated. A friend of Cameron's, 15, was also arrested.

Cameron's arrest has inflamed his mother, Sabine, whose Watercooler post (registration required) shortly after the event has spawned dozens of replies. She's now renewing a campaign to get a skateboard park in town, which died a NIMBY death two years ago.

"Police I understand are between a rock and a hard place," said Sabine. "But there's so much more going on for them to be harassing these kids for doing something harmless."

"It's like really unfair. It's the only thing we really do," said Cameron, a tall skinny boy with a shy manner. "I'm not like a troublemaker."
» Skateboarder Arrest Fuels New Bid for Skate Park

Monday, December 14, 2009

In Silver Spring and Elsewhere, Black Skateboarding Surges

I recently wrote about the changing face of skateboarding, and how the population of skaters in and around Silver Spring looks very different from the days when Lisa Jaeggi made her short film, No No Skateboarding (2005). The majority of skaters in that film appear to be white, but in Silver Spring today, most skaters are black and hispanic.

We saw that in the 30 or so skaters who showed up at Park & Planning's November 4th community meeting about the Woodside Skate Spot — there may have been 5 white skaters there.

Skateboarding is an incredibly accessible sport because kids don't have to pay fees to participate in leagues, and they don't need to buy uniforms or have parents drop them off and pick them up for practice. All a kid needs to get started is a skateboard and some concrete.

I've talked to many minority skaters in Silver Spring who have never participated in a single camp or any organized program during summers. Many of them view skateboarding as the thing that keeps them active and focused, and keeps them away from negative influences in their lives.

Pro-skater and friend of many Silver Spring skaters, Darren Harper, talked to me about the shift he's seen during the past few years, and how it's not unusual today to see many kids in the hood skateboarding, and even bringing skateboards to school.

This trend of increased participation among blacks in skateboarding, is happening here and in many parts of the country. From Black skateboarding surges in the sport's next generation.

Yes We Can! (Skate on Ellsworth Drive)

On Saturday, December 12th, a DTSS security guard told skaters that yes, we can skate on Ellsworth Drive (from the area in front of Potbelly's to the end of the block, at Ellsworth and Fenton.)

This is the same security guard who, several months ago, threatened to call the police on I and several other skaters for simply standing in front of New York & Co. holding our skateboards. I told him what he could clearly see — that we were not skating but standing there holding our boards. But because we refused his demand to leave Ellsworth, he proceeded to call the police via his walkie-talkie, telling them that we were still skateboarding on Ellsworth Drive. Rather than trying to fight this blatant deception, I and the other skaters I was with left DTSS.

On November 14th, I sent an email to the DTSS Property Manager and their Head of Security, asking them what legal basis they were using for prohibiting skateboarding on Ellsworth. It's now December 14th, and I have not received a response.

What the security guard told skaters Saturday night, that we can skate on Ellsworth, is what I have maintained every time I and other skaters got kicked out for skating there — that Ellsworth Drive is public space. County Executive Isiah Leggett said it back in 2007, and this has been documented in the Washington Post, as well as by Dan Reed at Just Up The Pike, so why are we even having this conversation...when it's almost 2010?
"The County considers Ellsworth to be a public forum permitting the free and unfettered exercise of First Amendment rights," Leggett (D) said in the letter to PFA Silver Spring LC and the Peterson Companies.
Lisa Jaeggi, along with other skateboarders, challenged the no-skateboarding rule in 2005, and back then her father, Richard Jaeggi, wrote that "Nowhere in Silver Spring is the prohibition of skateboards more rigorously enforced than in the heart of Silver Sprung on Ellsworth Drive."

The county has made its position clear. The Property Manager of DTSS has acknowledged the public nature of Ellsworth Drive, with Paul Liquorie of MCPD confirming.
Both Nettles and Liquorie said because Ellsworth Drive has been deemed a public street – Peterson leases the property from the county – residents have all their First Amendment rights and a curfew would not be possible.


"We have to maintain First Amendment rights," Nettles said.
And now that a DTSS security guard has told us we can skate on Ellsworth Drive, can we please, finally, put this issue to bed?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Arguments for a Skatepark in Downtown Silver Spring

The many reasons why we need a large skatepark in downtown Silver Spring:
  • Skateparks save lives — While skateboarding is statistically safer than playing basketball, there were 42 skateboarding-related deaths in 2006. Of those 42, 40 happened outside of skateparks. The vast majority of skateboard-related deaths involve motor vehicles. From Skaters for Public Skateparks: "Skateboarding youth are being killed in the streets at an alarming rate, because they lack appropriate places to recreate. Skateboarders need skateparks." Also, 50% of skateboard-related trauma is caused by skating on irregular ground, such as broken sidewalks or stairs.
  • Silver Spring's kids have been asking for a skatepark for 10 years — Ever since the closing of the interim downtown skatepark East of Maui, which closed to make way for the redevelopment, kids in Silver Spring have been asking for a downtown skatepark. Kids have protested, made films, and spoken out about this for years. While community groups discuss the lack of "things to do" for young people downtown, a huge number of our kids already have something to do — they just don't have a place to do it.
  • It's in the Master Plan for downtown Silver Spring — This document, Addendum to April 2008 Master Plan Status Report, lists projects included in the Master Plan and their status. For the item Replace Interim Skateboard Facility, the status listed: No progress to date.
  • 2,838 potential skaters in the area — Using a forumla from Skaters for Public Skateparks, and using data from the American Community Survey, Dan Reed from Just Up The Pike crunched the numbers and discovered that there are 2,838 potential skaters in and around downtown Silver Spring. Of those, 33%, or 936, are likely to be daily skaters — those most likely to use a skatepark.
  • Skateboarding is the fastest growing sport in America — According to the National Sporting Goods Association, in a 10 year study (from 1998 to 2008) tracking sports that grew in participation by at least 15%, skateboarding beat them all, growing by 74.1%. And the 2007 title Social Issues in Sport, reports that based on studies by National Sporting Goods Association, and Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, there's been a "dramatic shift in participation among teens and preteens from mainstream sports such as basketball and football to extreme or action sports." And that since 1990, participation in mainstream sports is down 30%, while participation in action sports "is up in excess of 600%."
  • Obesity and inactivity among youthAccording to the CDC, over 17% of American children are obese (over 9 million American kids), and the obesity rate has tripled in the past three decades. Overweight adolescents have a 70% chance of becoming overweight or obese adults. This increases to 80% if one or more parent is overweight or obese. Also, 65% of children in America do not meet recommended guidelines for physical activity, and 35% watched television 3 or more hours per day on an average school day.

    Obesity and inactivity among kids have become such serious problems that the US Department of Health and Human Services recently enlisted the aid of the Ad Council and Warner Bros. Pictures to produce a Public Service Ad for television, encouraging kids to go outside and play 1 hour each day.

    In contrast to these disturbing trends, obesity among skateboarders is almost nonexistent. Skaters tend to exceed the recommended guidelines for physical activity, and it's very difficult to keep skateboarders from being active — it generally takes rain or snow, (which makes skateboarding dangerous and damages skateboards) to keep skaters indoors.
  • To protect property from skateboarding-related damage"If your city doesn't have a skatepark, your city BECOMES a skatepark."

Friday, December 4, 2009

Long Story Short

The Montgomery County Planning Board's Sector Plan for the Silver Spring Central Business District calls for a downtown skatepark. The Sector Plan, created in 2000, acknowledges the popularity of East of Maui, a former downtown skatepark that was built in the late 1990s and that used to sit where the Silver Plaza (the fountain, etc.) is now.

The Sector Plan also acknowledges the need for a downtown skatepark in order to reduce damage to redevelopment properties from skateboarders. It's in the county's economic interest to build a skatepark. Areas that have skateparks have much less damage to surrounding properties. We've seen this dynamic here in Silver Spring — when skaters had a legal place to skate, (and not even a skatepark but a half-block's worth of flat pavement to skate), no one skated Discovery and there was no damage to Discovery Plaza, or to it's marble ledge. Both were trashed after that skate spot was taken away. This was not done out of vengeance or a desire to destroy property. It happened because skaters had no place to go.

The East of Maui skatepark was interim from its start. It was intended as a temporary amenity to give kids downtown something to do before DTSS was fully developed. The reference in the 2008 Status Report, "replace interim skateboard facility", is specifically referring to replacing East of Maui.

Park & Planning came up with plans for a "skate spot" (too small to be called a skatepark) in Woodside Urban Park. At a November community meeting they told us that they asked a skatepark company for the smallest possible park they could build. Experts in this field say a skate spot this size can only support 20 skaters. The project has been delayed because Woodside Civic Association wants a lot of questions answered before they support it, but even if it actually does get built, The Woodside Skate Spot is also intended to be interim. So, they want to replace an interim park...with an interim park?

In 2005 parks had plans for a 14,000 square foot skatepark in Fenton Gateway Park. Our need for a real skatepark is much greater today than it was in 2005. So why are we moving backwards rather than forward? Where's the commitment to these kids — to keeping them out of trouble and helping them to engage in healthy activities?

The most important reason for building a downtown skatepark? Of the 42 US skateboarding-related fatalities in 2006 (that's about 1 per week), 40 happened outside of skateparks. Skateboarding is statistically safer than playing basketball, and the vast majority of these fatalities involved motor vehicles. And sadly, one of them happened right here in Silver Spring.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Regarding that 2008 Master Plan Status Report...

What happened? Where's the skatepark?


CBD skatepark no progress

Skateboarding Timeline: How Silver Spring's Kids Were Let Down [UPDATED]

(Update appears at the end of this post — the last 2 items in the timeline.)

Teens have been speaking up very clearly, and for a very long time, about what they want and need. And yet, all they've gotten so far is broken promises.

In 2005 the county parks department had plans to build a 14,000 square foot skatepark in Fenton Gateway Park. While the 2000 Sector Plan for the Central Business District calls for downtown to have a skatepark, it seems the real impetus for this project came from Lisa Jaeggi and her now-famous No No Skateboarding, the short film shot by her father, Richard Jaeggi, protesting the prohibition of skateboarding by a private company (DTSS), on a public street (Ellsworth Drive.)

But there was no support for the skatepark in Fenton Gateway Park by the surrounding community, and plans were allowed to "quietly die." After that, the county did address the lack of a legal place to skateboard by giving skaters lower Ellsworth, blocking traffic and allowing skateboarding there on weekends.

One day in January 2009, skateboarders showed up at their beloved skate spot on Ellsworth, to find that it no longer existed. Without a word of warning to skaters, the one place in all of downtown where skaters could skate and not get kicked out, was suddenly gone. From then until now skaters in and around the the Central Business District, which is supposed to have a skatepark, have gotten nothing but promises for a new spot (all broken), and harassment from DTSS and various other security guards in the area.

In the 2000 Sector Plan for the CBD, the call for a skatepark acknowledged the popularity of East of Maui, the "interim" skatepark that was once downtown, and also addressed the importance of providing a legitimate skating facility in order to protect the redevelopment areas from being damaged by skaters.

Since 2000, the entire country has seen an explosion of growth in extreme sports, most of all skateboarding, while the numbers for all team sports are down. Skaters for Public Skateparks says the national average of youth that skate is 16%, and of those, 33% are daily skaters. In a ten year study the National Association of Sporting Goods Manufacturers said that among sports that grew by at least 15%, skateboarding beat them all — growing more than 74%.

Today, skateboarding is a multi-billion dollar industry.

If we were to reprise Lisa Jaeggi's film today, it would look quite a bit different from No No Skateboarding — the skaters in her video appear to be almost all white, while the vast majority of Silver Spring skaters today are minorities — many of them with limited options for recreation.

Here's a quick timeline of skateboarding-related events in Silver Spring.

  • East of Maui closed — The East of Maui Skatepark closed to make way for the downtown redevelopment. It's owner Dave Loop told me it was always meant to be "interim" but that he was able to keep it open longer than expected. (Sadly, all of the ramps and equipment were destroyed when the skatepark closed.)
  • March 2005 Youth not discussed — In a Citizens Advisory Board meeting, Impact Silver Spring's leader Frankie Blackburn said "I was on the Redevelopment Committee and we never once discussed incorporating youth in downtown."
  • 2006 Silver Spring skateboarder killed — 44 year old Bob Wooldrige was hit by a car and killed while skateboarding on a Silver Spring neighborhood street.
  • 2006 Lower Ellsworth opens to skaters — The county started blocking traffic for skateboarders on the lower portion of Ellsworth Drive on weekends — apparently to give skaters something after plans for the skatepark in Fenton Gateway Park died.
  • January 2009 Lower Ellsworth closed to skaters — The management of DTSS and the Silver Spring Regional Office stopped blocking traffic for skaters, closing lower Ellsworth as a skating spot — the only legal skateboarding spot in downtown Silver Spring. Gary Stith told me the reason for ending skateboarding on Ellsworth was because "businesses complained."
  • January 2009 Promise of a new skate spot — Shortly after Ellsworth was closed to skateboarders — I was told by Gary Stith that he was trying to get us a new skate spot in an area behind Whole Foods, and that we were likely to have that within a couple of weeks. Never happened.
  • January 2009 Seeking support from Richard Jaeggi — I called Richard Jaeggi asking for help to get skating back on Ellsworth, or an alternative location. Richard told me he was too busy planning the March 7th Mixed Unity concert, and that was all he could focus on. (He told me he had tried to bring skaters into Mixed Unity but failed, and asked me to bring them in. But I attended a few meetings and after the first, I told him I didn't think they'd be interested since all I saw was concert planning. The skaters just wanted a place to skate.)
  • February 2009 DTSS gives us, then takes back skate spot — I was told by Lillian Buie, DTSS Guest Relations Director, that we could have the alley beside the DTSS security office. She took me to the alley to show me the area. We WERE allowed to skate there...for all of two weeks, before it was taken away and they started kicking us out.
  • May 2009 Another supposed skate spot — We were told by Jennifer Nettles, Property Manager of DTSS, that she was working on getting us the pavement between Whole Foods and Hollywood Video. Never happened.
  • May 2009 Skateboarding event that never happened — AFI asked DTSS to host a skateboarding event, to promote a skateboarding movie AFI planned to screen. Never happened. (After a 3-month fiasco of trying to help DTSS plan this thing, with the date being changed from June 21st, to July 21st, to August 21st, we were finally offered such a low-budget tired-sounding event that no one would have bothered to come.)
  • July 2009 A supposed skatepark on library property — We were supposedly on track to get a skatepark in the space the library currently sits on, once that's torn down. Not gonna happen.
  • July 2009 No response from Citizens Advisory Committee — Following DTSS Property Manager's request, Lillian Buie made an email introduction with me and a Citizens Advisory Board member, identifying me as someone who was very involved with local skaters and who knows a lot about their needs. I sent 3 long emails to that Advisory Board member — not one of them got a response.
  • October 2009 Skaters find out about Woodside plans — Former Silver Spring skater Mike Fitzgerald, who came with me to the first meeting with DTSS on the planned skateboarding event, (and who now lives in West Virginia), informed me of the planned skate spot for Woodside Urban Park. I immediately set up a Facebook Group and started organizing skaters to support it.
  • November 4th, 2009 Woodside Skate Spot meeting — We were supposedly going to have a tiny "skate spot" (3,000 square feet) in Woodside Park this January. We were asked to support it. We did support it, asking skaters to send supportive emails, and asking skaters to attend the meeting (30 did), and I even attended a 'pre-meeting' that I initiated on November 4th, the day of the community meeting. Construction on that skate spot has now been delayed, and I'm not convinced it's actually going to be built.
  • November 25, 2009 SPS weighs in — In a comment posted to Dan's blog, Skaters for Public Skateparks Publishing Director Peter Whitley, thanks Dan for using the SPS data exactly as it was meant to be used, and points out that while "budget-minded bureaucrats" may see skate spots as "miniature skateparks", they are not, and are only meant to augment community skateparks and not to replace them.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Woodside Too Small for Downtown Skatepark (According to Park & Planning in 2005)

Based on the explosion of growth in extreme sports, we likely have hundreds more skateboarders in Silver Spring today than we did in 2005. And yet, in 2005, Park & Planning said that Woodside Urban Park was too small to accommodate a skatepark, and that even Jesup Blair Local Park, (where the available space was 5,000 square feet), was too small.

So why, at the end of 2009, when all available data suggests we have many more skateboarders than in 2005, would Park & Planning intentionally plan for the smallest skatepark possible in Woodside Urban Park?
"Other sites considered for skateboard parks but deemed too small were Woodside Urban Park and Jesup Blair Local Park. The Jesup Blair Facility Plan approved by the Montgomery County Planning Board includes a small skateboard park; however, the available space is only 5,000 square feet, which is too small to accommodate this type of facility. Therefore, staff is no longer recommending its construction." (pp. 26-27) The staff report also included a memorandum from Councilmember Silverman to the Planning Board encouraging the Planning Board to include a skate park in the next CIP.
And if Jesup Blair was deemed too small at 5,000 square feet, how on earth could a 3,000 square foot "skate spot" possibly meet the needs of local skaters?

This Is NOT Just About a Skatepark

As important as it is for skaters in Silver Spring to have a safe and legal place to skate (and one that can accommodate the enormous community of skaters we have here), our organizing and our advocacy work is NOT just about getting a skatepark. And this is not just about skateboarding, or skateboarders. This is about a huge number of children in our community — it's about their safety, their welfare, and how much we value their voices and their concerns.

In the coming weeks you'll be hearing directly from many of our young skaters, speaking out about their struggles and their frustrations. They've got a lot to say, and I hope this community will listen.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Skateparks Save Lives (or One More Reason Why Silver Spring NEEDS a Large Skatepark)

I found this report on skateboard fatalities from Skaters for Public Skateparks' Executive Director John Leizear, on a Concrete Disciples forum. One of the writers of this report, SPS Publishing Director Peter Whitley, recently left a very eye-opening comment on Dan Reed's blog Just Up The Pike, in which Dan makes a slam-dunk case for having a large skatepark in downtown Silver Spring. In his blog post Dan points out that a tiny skate spot in Woodside cannot, and will not clear downtown streets of skaters, and Whitley's comment clearly explains why a "skate spot" is not a miniature skatepark, and why the concept of skate spots was never meant to replace community skateparks, but to augment them.

This report adds even more weight to Dan's argument in support of a downtown skatepark — and shows the potential cost of not providing a safe and legal place for Silver Spring skateboarders to pursue their passion. Sadly, number 28 on the list of 2006 skateboarding fatalities, is 44 year old Bob Wooldridge of Silver Spring, who was hit by a car while riding a skateboard in the street. (Bolding emphasis in the following report is mine.)
Throughout 2006 Skaters for Public Skateparks (SPS) tracked several aspects of skateboarding activity, including skateboard-related fatalities, as reported in the media, online sources, and other publishing sources. On average 2006 had nearly one person killed per week while skateboarding; a total of 42 skateboarding youth died while recreating. Of these 42 deaths, 40 occurred outside of skateparks.

Skateboarding in the United States is increasing in popularity. At SPS we believe that accessible skateboarding facilities are the best way to encourage this healthy activity safe. Public parks and areas without vehicular traffic, such as plazas and city squares, are the safest places for skateboarders to recreate yet increasingly skaters are kicked out of these environments and must find new places to recreate. This can lead to consequences that every person in the community should find unacceptable. Skateboarding youth are being killed in the streets at an alarming rate, because they lack appropriate places to recreate. Skateboarders need skateparks. At SPS, we hope that these figures illuminate the gravity of this tragic problem.

2006 saw a broad range of Skaters lose their life. The youngest was Seven Year old Ian Campbell from Soulsbyville, California who was struck by a truck while skating in front of his house on March 15, 2006. Our Brother, Ian was the 17th victim of 2006. In contrast, 2006's oldest skater to die was Mr. Steve Helton of Buhl, Idaho. Mr. Helton was 49 at the time of the accident, and was the 38th fatality of 2006. Ian and Steve died doing something they enjoyed, and were separated by hundreds of miles and 42 years of experience, but they shared a love of skateboarding.

The research supports a view that most skateboarders share through personal observation. In itself skateboarding is not dangerous, but when it's combined with vehicular traffic it can be deadly. In 2006, 27 skateboarders were struck and killed by vehicles. Texas recorded seven fatal vehicular accidents involving skaters, while California had four. No state is immune from these tragedies. Maine, Alabama, Minnesota, South Carolina, and many others each faced this preventable tragedy.

The future looks bright for skateboarders everywhere. Communities across the nation are realizing the value of skateparks. Fearful, suspicious attitudes towards skateboarders are melting away as skateboarding advocates continue to present a vision where skateboarding is accepted as a healthy, positive recreational choice for our youth and young-at-heart. In a society that is seeing staggering numbers of children become overweight, and the fact that traditional sports have declined in participation, it is paramount we re-activate our communities with the desires of today's sporting and recreating youth. Support your local skateboarders, and lobby your Governments to build skateparks to keep our communities safe and active.

Fatalities by Age (in years):

12 and under: 6
13 – 18: 21
19 – 24: 12
25 and up: 3
*14 – 15: 12 Fatalities

By Gender
Male: 40
Female: 2

By Location
Within skatepark: 2
Outside skatepark: 40

Research: John Leizear
SPS Members
Writers: John Leizear
Peter Whitley

for more information contact:
John Leizear
(540) 219-4096

This report may be reprinted without SPS consent, however SPS and the Research Author must be credited.

1.) Jason Rundell (23)
Hit by car street skating (ME)
Teen killed while skateboarding

2.) Clinton Kirby Roberts (13)
Hit by vehicle while street skating (AL)
Classmates remember teen killed in skateboard accident

3.) Travis Baldwin (14)
Hit by truck while street skating (Oildale, CA)

4.) Reid Menzer (14)
Hit by car while street skating (PA)

5.) Blake Hand (14)
Hit and run while street skating (BIRMINGHAM, Ala)

6.) Unnamed man (age unknown)
Struck by truck while street skating (WV)

7.) Dustin Wayne Prine (16)
Struck by truck while skating street (TX)

8.) Austin Sparks (13)
Struck by driver while skating street (TX)

9.) Michael Santos (19)
Struck and killed by car while skating street (HI)

10.) Albert Vasquez (1
Struck and killed by truck while skating street (TX)

11.) Tony Mitchell (1
Struck and killed by truck(NM)

12.) Dillon Meheut (9)
Struck and killed by car while skating street (TX)

13.) David Allen Hays (23)
Died after holding onto car (Rancho Penasquitos, CA)

14.) Travis Gracey (21
Struck and killed by motorcycle while skating street (Seattle, WA)

15.) Brian Samson (19)
Died after holding onto golf cart (FL)

16.) Josh Kilnger (19)
Died after falling while skating a hill (NV)

17.) Ian Campbell (7)
Died after struck by a car while skating (Soulsbyville, CA)

18.) Michael Goodman (15)
Died after falling from his board while skating street (Orlando, FL)

19.) Matthew Gallops (11
Struck and killed by a car while skating street (Savanna, GA)

20.) Austin M. Gagner (10)
Hit by a bus as he was crossing the street on a skateboard (Rice Lake, MN)

21.) Frank Russo (13)
Struck head while skating in a skatepark, not wearing helmet (Port Angeles, WA)

22.) Ashley Philips (16)
Struck by a car while riding in the street (Clearwater, FL)

23.) Jonathan Brock (17)
Struck by a car while riding in the street (Conway, SC)

24.) Brett Neeley (21)
Lost control rounding a corner while riding in the street and struck his head (Provo, UT)

25.) Joshua McSweeney (15)
Died after being in a coma due to injuries sustained when he was struck by a car while riding in the street (San Antonio, TX)

26.) Jeremy Best (15)
Died from injuries after being struck by an SUV while crossing a highway on a skateboard (West Islip, NY)

27.) Gabriel Guerrero (15)
Struck and killed while skating in the street, by drunk driver in a vehicle with headlights turned off (Harlingen, TX)

28.) Bob Wooldridge (44)
Struck by a car while skating in a neighborhood street (Silver Spring, MD)

29.) Bob Samson (23)
Fell from skateboard and died when dog ran in front of him (Alaska)

30.) Tommy Michalson (12)
Died while skating street (Crested Butte, CO)

31.) Jeremy Allen Suntken (20)
Died while skating prefab skatepark (Red Wing, Wis)

32.) Matthew Monroe (15)
Struck and killed by Amtrak train while skateboarding with headphones on (LANCASTER COUNTY, PA)

33.) Steve Helton (49)
Fell and died while skating longboard (Buhl, Idaho)

34.) Justin Freeman (12)
Struck and killed by auto while skating street (Everett, WA)

35.) Jack Pellicano (14)
Struck and killed by truck while skating street (Newport Beach, CA)

36.) Robert Jay Shenk (25)
Struck and killed by truck while skating street (BUENA PARK, Calif)

37.) Jonathan Tyler Litton (14)
Struck and killed by truck while skating street (Hiddenite, NC)

38.) D.J. Epperson (13)
Died while street skating (Omaha, NE)

39.) Christian Corneau (14)
Died while street skating, hit by an automobile. He was wearing a helmet at the time of death; his skateboard was broken in half. (Dallas, TX)

40.) Rebecca Mead (21)
died when she fell off her out-of-control skateboard and hit her head

41.) David Bruce Schleiden (15)
Stuck and killed by a car in traffic (Cape Coral, FL)

42.) Patrick Butler (20)
Died street skating in Aberdeen, MD