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"Built without permission, by skateboarders and later sanctioned by the city, Burnside is the preeminent example of action.... Like a magnifying glass in the sun, Burnside can witness a concentration of skill level unmatched anywhere. You can see crazy, crazy things there. Go, watch, learn, be humbled, excited and inspired. It is amazing."
- From Skate Oregon

The end of Burnside skatepark?

Thursday, May 6
I have a hard time believing that the end may be drawing near for Burnside, but new developments are arising that is putting it's future in question. Less than 2 blocks away is a vacant lot and an old beat-up warehouse that sits on one of the busiest corners, Burnside and MLK, leading across the Willamette river into downtown Portland. It has been a rumor for sometime now that there is a new development being discussed for a million square foot building project that will include housing and, of all things, a Home Depot.

There are skatepark advocates that have been in sporadic contact with the PDC, Portland Development Commision, concerning this rumor and the impact it may have on the skatepark. The PDC has always said no, there should be no impact, and there is no reason to doubt them. But....

Recently it has been suggested that there will be some impact, either directly or indirectly, with Burnside. Which, in light of a building project that will involve a million square feet, is understandable. How can a project of such a massive scale, and costing probably in the hundreds of millions of dollars not have some sort of impact? Which leads me to the reason for the title question, is this the end of the Burnside skatepark?

The most immediate problem the skatepark faces right now is there are no visible leaders to stand up and fight for the skatepark. The local, most visible, skatepark advocates in Portland, Skaters for Portland Skateparks already have thier hands full with the ongoing battle for the most ambitious skatepark plan the world has ever seen. SPS is working on a plan to have a small scale skatepark in nearly every neighborhood in Portland, rather than one large scale skatepark, which is quite the undertaking. But that leaves Burnside out the equation for the time being. Unfortunately that means that if someone does not stand up for Burnside now, it may be too late once the plans get finalized for the building project up the street.

How do we get Burnside recognized for what it is, the spark that has led to the recent boom in skatepark construction across the country? How do we let those that are not skateboarders know that Burnside brings people from around the world to Portland just to ride a skateboard? How do we let the city of Portland know that Burnside, in it's 14 years, has become a national landmark? And how do we let the country, and it's millions of skateboarders, know that Burnside may be nearing an untimely end?

There are so many questions that I don't have the answer for, yet, I need to come up with these answers. Why? Because I have taken upon myself to represent Burnside to the PDC, the city of Portland, and the country. I know that I don't represent the spectrum of skaters that frequent the park, or the skaters that come from around the world, but as one of the originators of the park I feel it is my responsibility to do all that I can to save it. A quote that represents the do-it-yourself attitude has really sparked this in me and that is
If not you. Who? If not now. When?
Do it yourself

I have never worked in the political realm but I am determined to stick this out until the end. I will keep anybody who may read this updated with any and all info as I get it. Wish me luck.

5/06/2004 08:58:00 AM :: ::
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