Skatepark advocacy efforts are always challenging. Very few skateparks go quickly from idea to reality. The average project requires more than three years of organizing, planning, and fundraising. The reason they take so long is partly due to the following ten disputes. Solve or avoid these and you’ll eliminate months or years of unnecessary delays!
1. Core Group versus Core Group
Some members of the core advocacy group prefer an expedient location and/or pursue a more humble skatepark while others within the core group want to hold out for a better skatepark and/or at a more central location, which will likely extend the duration of the project.
Solution: Have a frank discussion with the city regarding these critical decisions so that everyone understands what’s at stake and what the options are. Then have the group and skateboarding community vote.
2. Core Group versus City
The core group wants a larger facility at an optimal location, while the city is proposing a smaller facility at a more remote or out-of-the-way site.
Solution: Have the city clearly define what their objectives are for the skatepark, and see if the desired location can be expressed in a way that better meets their needs.
3. Core Group versus Fiscal Manager
The core group has raised funds for the skatepark and the fiscal manager is charging a service fee for “storing” the money, or is drawing from that account for small skatepark-related expenses.
Solution: Move the account to a more supportive fiscal sponsor. Do not enter into any fiscal-sponsor agreement without establishing terms in writing. While many nonprofit organizations require an administration fee for providing fiscal-sponsorship services, these should be clear and communicated to you in writing.
4. Street Skaters versus Transition Skaters
Street skaters claim majority privilege in pushing for a street-dominant design, while transition skaters claim a lack of naturally occurring terrain for them.
Solution: The skatepark should reflect the interests of the community proportionally. We recommend a 60% street, 40% transition arrangement when there are terrain disputes.
5. NIMBYs versus Skaters
Neighbors of a proposed skatepark site oppose what they feel will be damage caused by environmental or cultural impact from the new skatepark, while skaters claim that the skatepark will result in a healthier, happier community.
Solution: Avoid discussing possible locations for as long as possible. After the idea of a skatepark (“somewhere in town”) is broadly accepted by the community, use specific site-selection criteria to evaluate candidate sites. If neighbors oppose the skatepark’s proposed location, ask them what specific qualities you should be looking for in an optimal skatepark site.
6. Skatepark Fundraisers versus The Economy
Advocates and volunteers work tirelessly to raise funds for the skatepark, while agencies with access to larger budgets remain uninvolved and/or disinterested in the skatepark project.
Solution: Fundraising is the longest and most difficult stage of skatepark development. When there are no specific funding activities, shift your focus to raising community awareness … Funding will follow.
7. Skaters versus Designers
Skaters have invested years of work and raised thousands of dollars and feel that the skatepark designer is not producing the facility that they had expected.
Solution: Work with your city planners to develop the most restrictive bidding requirements that will still allow experienced designers to bid on the project. If the designer is already hired, ask them questions about the cost of various elements in the park. They should be able to answer any questions you have about the design. Make every effort to get experienced skateboarders appointed to review committees.
8. Everyone versus Builders
Construction of the skatepark is awarded to the lowest bidder, who happens to be inexperienced in skatepark construction, resulting in a flawed facility.
Solution: Work with the city on bidding requirements. If the project has already been awarded to an inexperienced or unsatisfactory builder, see if there’s an opportunity to enlist an experienced builder or designer to provide on-site supervision during construction. Ensure that the city understands how shoddy construction can render a skatepark unusable.
9. Cops versus Skaters
Local law enforcement has been cracking down on street skating, resulting in tickets and court dates for an activity that many people feel is benign.
Solution: Organize a small group of skaters that have been impacted by law-enforcement activities to explain their situation to city council. You may be able to relax enforcement or have the no-skateboarding ordinance boundaries adjusted.
10. Skaters versus Gravity
Skateboarding is hard and falling sucks.
Solution: Wear a helmet and/or don’t fall (good luck with the latter).
If you or your group is experiencing one of these disputes, contact the Tony Hawk Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re happy to work with you to help resolve your situation. If you want to get started on your local skatepark project, head over to publicskateparkguide.org for all your skatepark advocacy information.
We can’t help you with the gravity situation, though. Sorry.