ASU: Please Consider Boone D.I.Y. Skatepark Throughout your New Property Purchase Process
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- Written by Nikita (Nick) Daniel Sizer (Appalachian State University Class of 2017 - Building Sciences) with the help of all others involved.
- Feel free to let the decision makers at ASU know how you feel: Chancellor Sheri Everts (firstname.lastname@example.org) Vice Chancellor Paul Forte (email@example.com)
- ASU Board of Trustees and their individual emails: http://chancellor.appstate.edu/bot/
- April of 2016: Students, builders, business owners, and skateboarders of Boone, NC alike launched a petition in order to stop the County's demolition of our Do It Yourself Skatepark located at the Old Watauga High School Property. At the time, the property was abandoned, but owned by Watauga County and it still technically is as of July 2017. We were there illegally. With the help of Watauga County Manager Deron Geouque, to whom we express our most sincere appreciation and gratitude, we were granted forgiveness and permission to remain in operation until further notice under certain conditions. This proposition has undeniably been met with great success and for the past year; ASU students and youth, both local and out of town, have enjoyed free range access to a unique and affordable means of recreation for which we are very grateful for. Boone NC does not have a skateboard park and Ordinance 71.10 (C) prohibits skateboarding on town sidewalks. Similarly, Appalachian State University Policy prohibits skateboarding on any property owned or maintained by the institution. Skateboarders are subject to fines and other penalties simply for riding a board as a means of transportation to work or school. Boone D.I.Y. provides a space for skateboarders to go where they literally cannot bother anybody nor get hassled for doing what they love.
- April 2017: Watauga County sold the land that our D.I.Y. skatepark sits on to Appalachian State University. That's not exactly what we're upset about. We knew 1. this wouldn't last forever and 2. this purchase is in the long term interests of both the university and the county. However, a recent newspaper article outlining the potential fate of this property has prompted us to respond with a New Petition addressed to a Separate Entity promoting a Different Cause. The article to which we are referring is titled, "ASU: No uses finalized for old WHS property" and can be found below. The next few bullet points will highlight key phrases and quotes within the article, and then provide a direct, intelligent, and logical response to the proposed actions in an effort to arouse the thoughts of those in charge of the whole process that may not be able to see things from our perspective. Then, perhaps we can reach a point of understanding and peaceful agreement and work on establishing the next step. The skateboarders of Boone currently have zero lines of communication with anybody at ASU and our attempts to contact the university appear to have been ignored. Now, we must seek help from the public. This is our stand. Thank you for taking the time to hear us out.
- At a trustees committee meeting on June 22, Vice Chancellor for Business Affairs Paul Forte noted that a phase one environmental survey is being conducted at the property. Once the university closes on the property, it will take steps to secure the site, which will include discontinuation of the “DIY” skatepark that has formed at the site in recent years. “When we take it over, we will not be able to allow that in a safe way,” Forte said. County Manager Deron Geouque said he expects closing to take place in August or September.
- Safety is the University's concern. Safety. Let us briefly tell you the amount of risk County Manager Deron Geouque took on allowing us to continue operating on his property. In doing so, he put great faith in our ability to operate safely. If anything out of the ordinary happened such as crime or serious injury, and it got back to him, he would've been held liable because he originally granted permission for us to be there. However, the number of police reports and hospital visits in the past few years stemming from activity at Boone D.I.Y. skatepark is still zero. If we hadn't already been operating safely in the previous years when we were there illegally, he would never have originally granted us that permission in the first place and would've demolished our skatepark a year ago. But instead, he gave us a chance and put his faith in us, and we have, without a doubt, already proven to him that we can build, maintain, and ride our skatepark safely. He will not hesitate to tell you this. We also took the initiative to create a custom made sign that clearly states the skatepark rules and that the use of it is done "at your own risk." Similar to how you "swim at your own risk" at some swimming pools. Lastly, its ironic that many of the construction safety measures we've used were taught to us in your Building Science classrooms. Appalachian State University, this is a sad excuse to discontinue our skatepark. We operate safely. There are other more urgent safety concerns on campus such as underage drinking, sexual assault, and theft that need to be addressed. Wasn't there an ambulance stolen from a football game not too long ago and the suspect got away? True story, Google it. The skateboarders aren't causing any trouble.
- If the site is used as additional parking for fall football games this year, he said, the university could install temporary lighting in the lots. “As you can see, a number of immediate and long-term needs could be met through strategic use of this property,” Everts said
- According to another Watauga County Democrat article, it appears that the university has been using the parking lot adjacent to Boone D.I.Y. skatepark for football game tailgating and parking since 2015 and utilized Appalcart to shuttle these sports fans to and from the game. We agree that this seems to be a logical and efficient use of a few acres of asphalt. However, we still don't see how or why our skatepark impacts that negatively in any way, shape, or form. Football parking and our skatepark have coexisted side by side in the past 2 years with no repercussions, why is this year any different? Not to mention the fact that our skatepark is located on the tennis court, away from all parking lots. In fact, I actually remember skating the park while intense strategic law enforcement training was going on about a football field's length away. Nonetheless, to allow tailgating on abandoned property, but not riding a skateboard, indirectly implies this message: "We at ASU allow our students and the general public to utilize abandoned property as a space in order to get hammered drunk before game day, but we do not permit practicing a confirmed 2020 Olympic Sport." What was that concern about safety again? I would be more worried about how all those people are getting home from the game rather than some skateboarders minding their own business doing their thing. The article to which I am referring to can be found below.
- Appalachian State University leaders recently indicated that many options remain on the table for use of the old Watauga High School property... “The recent purchase of the old Watauga High School property provides us with an opportunity to strategically meet our current and future needs,” Chancellor Sheri N. Everts said to the ASU Board of Trustees on June 23. “While we continue our due diligence to best capitalize on this opportunity, we are challenging ourselves to think outside the box about how this property can strengthen the support for our core academic mission on central campus.”... Proposals under review including parking, recreation facilities for all students, multipurpose fields for intramurals and club sports, recreational opportunities for the community at large...
- "Many options remain on the table" sounds to us like the university clearly has not made up it's mind about what it actually wants to do with all that newly purchased land. Therefore, its only fair to say that they're not entirely ready to knock us down yet, either. We're not fools, we know development takes a lengthy amount of time, years. As soon as payment is made, paperwork is signed, and ownership is transferred over, construction will not begin immediately. Our understanding is there's not even an architect or a design yet. The title of the newspaper article is "No uses finalized"... What is the university's motivation behind dismantling the only viable place to skate for miles, that's been a proven success, before they even know what they're going to put there after us? We're not sure. But it would definitely sting a lot less if they actually knew what they planned on building there and were ready to go with construction documents, a budget, schedule, permits, equipment, etc on deck. Instead, it seems like their plan is to take possession of the land, knock our skatepark down, get some temporary use (such as football parking) out of it, and then guard the land as it continues to sit vacant and unused until university officials figure out what they want to finally do with the place. Why not just simply allow us to remain for the time being, just like the County has, until plans are finalized and the university is ready to take action? That's literally all we're asking. Do y'all really expect to break ground any time before spring 2018? We highly doubt it.... so leave us alone. Let the kids skate.
- "The recent purchase of the old Watauga High School property provides us with an opportunity to strategically meet our current and future needs,” Chancellor Sheri N. Everts said to the ASU Board of Trustees..." While we continue our due diligence to best capitalize on this opportunity, we are challenging ourselves to think outside the box..." recreation facilities for all students... recreational opportunities for the community at large...
- This sounds like you're asking for a skatepark, point blank. The ironic part is that it's already there, fulfilling a current and future recreational need in the community that you're either too blind to see or just flat out refuse to accept its' existence. North Carolina is seeing more and more skateparks get built with each passing year, Greensboro, Wilmington, Apex, Asheville, Winston Salem, Raleigh just to name a few with Morganton, Greenville, and even Fayetteville up next on the list. Skateparks have been proven to do nothing but good in every community except Boone apparently. But why? Where do all of your in-state students come from? most likely a town or city with an established skatepark. What do they get when they come to Boone? A town without a skatepark and a strict law against riding skateboards. Do you know why that policy was originally enacted in the early 2000s? Because skateboarders from Morganton came and vandalized the Veteran's Memorial in 1999. Nobody who rides a skateboard in Boone today had anything to do with that... yet here we are paying the price for their actions. Do you know why the skatepark in Boone didn't work out? Because the process wasn't done right. I personally know adults who've missed out on an App State experience because they've heard about the no skateboarding policy. I also know students who chose to attend school here because they know what we did about it (I.E. create our own place to skate). There are many who can attest to this; on a nice sunny day, our skatepark can see up to 30-40 kids at one time exercising, socializing, and expressing themselves creatively in a sustainable way, all while staying out of trouble. Recently, we've seen an increase in parents who bring their children and supervise them while they ride. One family in particular came all the way from Wilmington on vacation and their kid needed a place to go skate. There are young teenagers that come from low income communities within our town who take the bus from their homes just to ride their skateboards on the ramps that were built by a bunch of 20-year-olds on an abandoned, unused tennis court. These kids don't play on the sports teams at Watauga High School, they skateboard. It's what they love to do. Regardless of what university policy says, App State students love to skateboard. There's so many of us that do! Lets be honest, any and every student conduct case involving skateboarding has been a complete and utter waste of everybody's time, from the police officer to the office. Students love skateboarding so much so that they had to build their own place to skate using their own time, money, and skills and almost every day we see new faces. Guess what? we're not going away any time soon like you all want, in fact, we're growing. The need is well established. Once the 2017-2018 school year kicks in next month, I expect there to be at least a few hundred people, students and locals, working, schooling, and living in Boone that utilize that property on a regular basis, with activities ranging from skateboarding, to walking their dog, painting, working out, and riding bikes. We, the skateboarders, cleaned up that whole area. We paid for all of it through community fundraising so it wouldn't cost the town or county a dime. If it wasn't for us, the place would be a desolate wasteland. We gave that place life, where are you expecting all these people to go once our skatepark is discontinued? They aren't going to just magically vanish. The answer to that question is unfortunately where you didn't want us to be in the first place. Where everybody's time will continue getting wasted dealing with skateboarders who now have to ride illegally because their only place to go was taken away. Appalachian State University, you are displacing an entire community, causing harm to the area when you have all the power to make a difference for the good of your students and the community. Please make the right decision.
- In conclusion, we're not exactly advocating for the preservation of what we built on your soon-to-be property. We don't plan on making signs what say "save the spot" to protest on campus or chaining ourselves to the obstacles we constructed. We're just trying to get the most use out of our skatepark that we possibly can while the university takes its' sweet time to make up their minds about what's going to get built there after and we focus on the next step. If the university isn't entirely sure what course of action they're going to take with the recent purchase of the land our skatepark sits on, then why does our skatepark have to go as soon as they take possession of it? Why can't we continue skating for a bit longer until the university is ready to break ground? Why can't skateboarding just be an established form of recreation? It doesn't have to go away, it's not going to. The "because university policy" answer will not suffice this go around, we all know it's outdated. Through this petition, we're also promoting the "next step"... whatever that might be (It's in the works). We've already began talks with Boone Town Manager John Ward about ordinance 71.10 (c) and the future of skateboarding in this area, Watauga County manager Deron Geouque already had our backs for over a year, and we're very optimistic for what the future beholds. Skateboarding has so much potential for this town and for Appalachian State University. Please get in contact with us.
- Nick Sizer (App State Alumni & Skateboarder) 919-744-7795
- JP Pardy (Owner Recess Skate and Snow) 828-355-9013
- ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
- Liberty University Skatepark (Lynchburg VA): http://www.liberty.edu/skatepark/
- Ted Talk: "Why Every City Needs a Skatepark" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOC_XHicymY
- Ted Talk: "What I Learned from Building a Skatepark" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxOAa6_St7Y
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