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Why I Believe We Need a Public (Free) Skate Park

Over the years I've been talking and listening to people and their ideas and opinions about Portage having a Skate Park. Some people I've listened to have said they think we'd have a better park if we made people pay to use it. I disagree. I don't believe that having a better Skate Park is contingent on admission fees. I believe having a better Skate Park is more about helping the community take ownership of the Park. Charging an admission fee could inadvertently prevent some children from having access to the park. Skateboarding isn't an inexpensive sport as it is. Check out prices of skate decks, pads and helmets and you realize that people who will be using the Skate Park already have a healthy respect for the sport.

I also think we need to have a Free Public Skate Park to keep the park equal to all the other parks we have - the ones with baseball diamonds, basketball courts, tennis courts, soccer fields and volleyball courts. We don't charge kids admission to use them when they aren't in use for Park 'n Rec activities. Several years ago when I first spoke with Tim Raimer, Park 'n Rec Director about my thoughts regarding an effective approach to having a quality Skateboarding Park in Portage I suggested we start with the Park 'n Rec program and get older youth who know how to Skateboard get involved in the same way they are involved with T-ball, Soccer, Swimming and other park 'n rec programs. Portage has a football program for kids and we used to pay a fee to help cover the cost of the uniforms, pads, helmets, etc.

I don't know if this might happen or not with the Skate Park, but that would be the only way I think a fee would be reasonable, if it were a program within the Park 'n Rec program, then we know that scholarships are always available for families that can't afford the cost for some unfortunate reason. I think it's great how the City and Park n Rec and this committee are working together to get a first class Skate Park built here in Portage.

This first year we're aiming to raise $90,000 for the first phase of the park. It sounds like a lot - but I broke it down and the population of Columbia County is about 58,000 people so it's a little over $1 per county resident, or if considering only the City of Portage and the population is about 10,000 people then it's about $9 per person, or if you break it down into months it's about $7,500 per month or $1875 per week or breaking it down to a daily amount $90,000 divided by 365 = $247 per day. Some of that is already in the account - the city has $30,000 towards the project and some money has been coming in.

People are becoming more and more positive about this project and that's a great thing! Portage is going to be making history in the sport of Skateboarding! I'm looking forward to seeing what the future holds for the future skateboard enthusiasts in our community. Who knows what the future holds for them!

- June Paul, Secretary of the Portage Family Skate Park Committee

 

 

 PORTAGE FAMILY SKATE PARK HAS A WEBSITE

Since you've already checked out the website and subscribed to our newsletter you must have already seen it! Although we urge you to check it out even further because there is a lot more to it then just the newsletters!

The Portage Family Skate Park is going to update its website and newsletters every so often to give you the latest information from our project. Our website will feature:

  • Posts and updates about news, events, and our progress will presented on the home page. You can share and like each post on Facebook & Twitter!
  • You're able to join The Portage Family Skate Park by submitting an application!
  • Not sure when the next meeting will be? You can find that out too!
  • Being able to send donations!
  • And, well our newsletters!

 

What Skateboarding means to me

Skateboarding means something different to just about everybody.  Think about it - you could mean riding a vert ramp, technical tricks in the driveway, riding a longboard across campus, bombing a hill with deep curves, slalom, skate park or anything else you like doing on a board with wheels nailed to the bottom.  And then there's the deeper reasons to skate - creativity, freedom, destruction...

And here's the thing - it's alright.  A lot of people throw out the phrase, "Skateboarding is all about _____," and I'm sure they mean it.  For them, it's true.  But what fills that blank is different for each of us.

I read on a skateboarding forum recently where a guy was talking about how for him, skateboarding is like a religion.  He feels that he gets the same feelings out of it that faith gives others.  Now, I'm a believer myself, so I kinda want to react to that.  I want to say, "No man, you don't get it!  Faith is totally bigger.  Skateboarding is more like ..."  And here's where I'm wrong.  I can't correct him, because for him, it's true.  Maybe through skateboarding he finds peace.  Maybe through skateboarding he touches God. How do I know?

I know other guys who say skating is all about discovery and creation. "Skate and Create." Other people say it's a way to channel anger and rage into something constructive. For still others, skateboarding is all about pushing yourself, forcing yourself to grow. Or maybe about danger and risk. For me, skateboarding is about freedom. I never feel so free as when I'm ridin', alone at night, just the sound of my wheels. Nothing else matters.

For me, skateboarding is also about friends; people to push me, encourage me, in everything. Skateboarding is a place to be where every skater has his or her own drive. There's no right word for it, but that goes right along with what I'm saying.Think about it, the next time you see someone skate in a way or with an attitude not like yours. They're still skaters, still family, whether 4 or 40, girl or boy, longboard or short. Hating gets us nowhere.

For a long time, one of the hallmarks of skaters has been our inclusiveness and defense of our own. I remember a couple of years ago, hangin' out at the skate park, and seein' a little kid all padded up, trying to push along the edge of a bowl.  He was trying hard, when he came across some older white kids. One of the teens looked down at the little grom (young beginner skater) and said, "New board?"  The little kid lit up, and showed off his brand new Element complete skateboard. The older kids smiled, complimented it, and rode by. They were all skaters. That's all that mattered.

Remember that. Encourage each other. We're all a family. Save your hate for something else, focus it into your skating if you want, ride your way, and enjoy it all. It won't be long before you're too old, or too broken, or skateboarding has evolved and your style has been left in the dust. So what's skateboarding all about? Only you can really answer that, but remember, life's too short for hate. 

Enjoy what you get out of skating - skate hard, love it all, and have fun!

-  Kyle Little, President of the Portage Family Skate Park Committee

Conversation with a Skateboarder Mom

 

 

Jennifer Trasser and her husband Jay put their skateboards away a few years after they learned to drive, but they never got rid of them.  Years later when they were married their two children, then ages 7 and 5 found the retired skateboards in the basement.  Remembering the 'good old days' Jennifer and Jay brought the skateboards up and Jennifer started walking around the neighborhood with Leif on a board while holding his hand.

By age 5 it was obvious that skateboarding was in Leif Trasser's blood.  It's all that Leif wanted to do, he spent all his time on a skateboard in the driveway and when he started getting bored with that Jennifer and her husband were grateful that there was a Skate Park just a 3 minute walk from their home.  They went every day not because Jennifer, Jay and River, his older brother wanted to go, but because Leif wanted to go - every day.  He mastered the park and when the weather was cold and icy, or super hot he still wanted to skate.  If he couldn't or if his parents wouldn't take him to the indoor Skateboard Park he spent his time in the garage or the basement or playing with tech decks - those are like hot wheels but they are finger sized skateboards.  Jennifer said they are too this day, scattered all over their house because of course because Leif is still a little kid.

Jay is an electrician and when Leif was just 5 he was laid off.  During this time they began spending family time at different neighborhood parks.  There are 10 of them within a 2 hour drive of their home in the suburbs of Milwaukee.  They would pack a picnic lunch and drive off to a new destination and that's how they spent their time together during a stressful period of unemployment.  It was inexpensive and River and Leif flourished.  River isn't as competitive in nature as Leif.  He does compete but he skates more for pleasure than for the competition.

I asked Jennifer what it was like to be a skateboarding mom.  Is it like being a soccer mom?  Yes and no, she said.  We are as busy, but I don’t know, maybe it’s different because in Skateboarding if a skater falls the crowd cheers them on instead of jeering or complaining.  In Skateboarding, Jennifer said and I am quoting her verbatim on this, ‘The more you fall, the more you progress.”  Because when you fall in skateboarding, it’s because you are stretching yourself beyond what you can already do.  When they went to their first ‘King of Grom’ competition in Kenosha WI (Grom is a little kid skateboarder under the age of 13)  she was amazed at how the crowd responded when her son fell.  The whole crowd started cheering when he had fallen twice, “One more time!  One more try!” Leif got up, went back to skate and that time he made it and the crowd cheered even harder!   The parents are very supportive of each other and each others children according to Jennifer.

Because of Leif’s love and passion for skateboarding and his desire to compete in the sport their family now has friends all over the world and they all have positive attitudes.

It all started with finding mom and dad’s old skateboards in the basement.  His first official skateboard was a Superman one and he wore a bike helmet.  That’s what most kids will do when they start, you don’t typically need any pads or any of the special equipment that those who compete do so don’t let their gear intimidate you from letting your child try it in a simple way first.  Now Leif has sponsors and he’s already on the Four Seasons Skate Park Team, he’s the youngest member.  According to Jennifer, the Four Seasons Team is excited about helping us make our Skate Park become a reality and encourage other children to have fun.

Four Seasons is an Indoor Skate Park that is open 7 days a week, during the week you pay to get in but they have Free Skating on Saturday and Sunday mornings for the groms.  They also have skateboard coaches (that’s what they call the people who teach the lessons).

Most of the Skateboarders stay in touch and communicate with each other about events through FB and Jennifer was kind enough to give me permission to include their link at the end of this article.  All the groms’ sites are managed by the parents so the kids are kept safe!  Smart parents!    Thank you Jennifer for talking with me and sharing so much information with me.  We are looking forward to having events here and inviting other teams and individuals to help raise funds for and then to visit The Portage Family Skate Park.

- June Paul, Secretary of the Committee

https://www.facebook.com/gromleiftrasser

 

You Can Donate!

You Can Donate!

 Make donations payable to: Kiwanis
Memo: Skate board park.

Mail to:
c/o Rita: Skateboard Park,
Prairie Flower Beads,
210 W Cook Street, Portage, WI 53901

Read online.

Meet Todd Miller, Committee Member

Hi, my name is Todd Miller. I have only recently joined the ranks of the Portage Family Skate Park Project, have participated in a few outings, and am currently trying to put together a skateboard marathon for the end of summer in an effort to raise money, For the last seven years I have been working with local troubled youth through Northwoods of Wisconsin, Inc. Working with young people in the area it was quite obvious that a safe place to skate and just hang out was necessary and now I can help make it a reality! Thanks Portage Family Skate Park Project!!

Explore, Create, Express - Dennis Witt

Explore, Create, Express - Dennis Witt

This is a video I posted on our website next to the article titled, "Why Portage Should Have a Skate Park". I hope you enjoy this little film.

Click here to view media.

Read online.

Want to donate to the Portage Family Skate Park?

Make donations payable to: Kiwanis
Memo: Skate board park.
Mail to:
c/o Rita: Skateboard Park,
Prairie Flower Beads,
210 W Cook Street, Portage, WI 53901

 

 

Encounter at an out of town Skate Park


My husband and I took a drive to Tomah to eat at Burnstads European Restaurant and then drove on to LaCrosse to go up the bluffs and then went to drive around.  We came across a Skate Park and two guys were skating.  I finally waved at one and asked if we could talk a minute.  They both came over and I asked them how long they had been skateboarding and if they had ever been in competitions.  They both said no, they hadn't ever skated competitively but they had been skateboarding for probably 20 years or so, as long as the park has been there.  One said he had taken a break from it for a few years and just recently started back up, the other said he comes to this park three or four times a week and skates for maybe 2 or 3 hours.  He said it just feels good and helps him unwind.  The other said he feels free and relaxed when he skates.  They both have full time jobs that they enjoy.  This particular park is monitored by a video security system, which seems like a good idea to me - I'm not sure how much those cost but it would be nice to have one at our park in Portage.  I suppose someone will be checking into that possibility.  My husband learned about what all the ramps and parts of the skate park are called and we both learned about how important it is for people to know what they are doing when they are on skateboards!  No - we didn't try skateboarding - but one of the young men showed us how one area is rather tricky to maneuver because of the way the ramp meets the level concrete - almost perpendicular - he said newer skate parks that are built professionally by companies familiar with skate parks don't build them like that anymore - Whew! is what I thought - glad to hear that!  And I'm equally happy that our city has come together in a united effort to build a sustainable, safe skate park that will last for years and years.

- June Paul, Secretary of the Portage Family Skate Park Committee

Youth Fundraiser!

Youth Fundraiser!

High five

 

Bring your sheets provided below with the donations to the Portage Family Skate Park meetings on Tuesdays from 5:00 pm to 6:30 pm in Room 20 at the Gerstenkorn Building on Slifer Street near John Muir School. Deadline for forms is Thursday August 1st ...

Read online.

Upcoming Events

July 20  Brat Hut at Pierces 10:00 am - 3:00 pm

August 3 - Sidewalk Days in front of Prairie Beads  10:00 am - 2:00 pm

                  Raise the Praise, Veterans Memorial Field (Fairgrounds)

August 11 - Youth Fundraiser Awards/Potluck Picnic - Pauquette Park  - Noon - 4:00

August 24th - Taste of Portage - 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm  Skateboard Demonstrations

September 7 - Volleyball Tournament, Rileys  11:00 am - until tournament ends

September 21 - Safety Day at Culvers - 11:00 am - 3:00 pm