Helena, Montana

7/30/00—Dear Real Skate Members: While in the process of writing an article on the bias surrounding the construction of a skatepark here in Santa Cruz, (which has been approved but is held up due to a woman suing the city for approving a skatepark where she feels will disturb bird habitat at a nearby lagoon), I was interrupted with an e-mail from some skaters in Helena, Montana. Their case of bias and bigotry takes the cake over the Santa Cruz situation, and infuriated me enough to stop production and send you this special interim Real Skate newsletter. More absurd than filing a law suit protecting birds from skateboarders, there is a group of WWII vets protecting the honor of the dead from skaters. (I'm curious if they are honoring Viet Nam or Desert Storm vets, that would be interesting to know.)
      Anyway: A 4 acre established park of 10 years was agreed upon by the city of Helena to expand, resulting in the construction of a basketball court, playing field, swimming pool, picnic area, bandstand, skatepark, and a memorial plaque to WWII veterans. (Mind you, the skaters fought hard and heavy to get the skatepark built, but eventually won.) Seems now, the veterans have petitioned to remove the skatepark claiming it's disrespectful to have skaters in the vicinity of a war vet memorial, that it's a "family" park where skaters don't belong, etc. They feel the plaque structure will eventually be vandalized, although the skaters say it's not even skateable, and is far away from the skate track anyway.
      Here's the part where all of you come in. The Helena Independent Record newspaper has put up an opinion poll this week asking the public if the city should reconsider and demolish the skatepark. We all have the right to vote. You can also leave a comment, but if you do, I suggest you make your point without using any bad language or threats, because as you can see from the vets' posts, they are using anything and everything they can against skateboarders. All the comments are posted publically. The race is close, but the yes votes are winning due to a small skateboard community in Helena. The site is: http://www.helenair.com Scroll down about midway, and on the right is a box titled "Question of the Week." It's worded poorly (must have been written by a politician) but a NO vote will mean NO, don't demolish the skatepark. As you can tell, I am outraged at this bias and discrimination and if you are too, please help out these skaters in Helena, and vote NO to keep skateboarding real. Thanks, they will appreciate it. Clarkie

7/31/00 Helena Update:

Wow, thanks for all your "thank you's" and interest in this matter so far. I noticed that the opinion poll has been removed from the newspaper site this morning (Sunday). HOWEVER! The Independent Register welcomes letters, feedback, and comments. Below is quoted from their site: "Please send concerns, feedback, and comments to the Online Manager [kevin.tobosa@lee.net] Due to the high volume of e-mail we receive, we cannot respond to them all. However, your feedback is important to us and we do read all e-mail."
      Also, the skaters have corrected me on something that makes the matter even more discriminating! They said the skatepark isn't quite complete yet. It is a five phase process, and they are in phase two. So this means the skaters have done nothing for the vets to base their complaint on. Wow! The Helena skaters thank you again! Clarkie

10/15/00 - Letter from Kim - Hey, my name is Kim Spurzem, one of the few female skaters here, and I have lived in Helena, Mt. all my life It is a small very discriminatory town.. and as you know we are battling over our skate park currently. Well, as an update they did not build it at Municipal now known as Memorial Park to many. They are building it on a gas main across the street.. they say it is safe.. haha. The area is terrible. no restrooms, no water (vital on hot days), no stereo system or other important things to many kids that were included in the plan at the first location that was approved..
       The mayor sold out to the veterans but promised phase one to be done by the 16th to the 19 of Oct. Well it is the 6th and they have not even started, and the ground will freeze soon and they can not start. They are completely avoiding us and our complaints. For a city who supports its youth they sure have odd ways of showing it. The new area for the park also will cost more $ and the skaters have already raised all they can for now; plus it will be super close to the new road expansion.
       The fence will be at the road, (unsafe as all hell) oh ya and the once peaceful road they are expanding will become "user unfriendly" stated the mayor, (that violates Montana constitution on road something or other I can not remember at current time). So kids are expected to cross under this bridge which is down about a block from the park and hobos and all sorts of things kids shouldn't really have exposure to live under it. I personally believe it is unsafe to have a 9 or so year old skater cross under a bridge where they could be injured just so they can cross a street to meet their parents at the park or go and play at the park; (the same park the skatepark was to be built at in the first place!)
       I would really appreciate your input on what we should all do next. Thank you and keep up the good work; I love your online mag. It is the bomb diggity.. Kim



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