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Skate Debate Was a Long Time Coming 

Bend skate park debate was a long time coming.

As the author and organizer of the Miller's Landing 'Skate' Petition, I would like to comment on the November 3 article "An Axle to Grind." The article states, "With the end so seemingly close in sight for [the] Division Street [skate project], the recent push for a publicly funded skate park came rather unexpectedly." The effort should not be considered 'unexpected'. The pivotal date regarding publicly funded 'skate' activities was May 11, 2011.It was the day for public comment on Bend Parks and Recreation's (BPRD) Annual Budget for Fiscal Year 2011/12.

I wrote the following in a Bend Bulletin Opinion Editorial that appeared in print on May 11, 2011 stating, "... because the development boom is now over, we must all prioritize and make some very difficult decisions... Should the district embrace nontraditional activities like skateboarding, Frisbee golf, kayaking, etc.?..." The request was then presented to the Board and Budget committee using the appropriate language, at the appropriate time, and in the appropriate place. I stated, "As a candidate of the people... , I would hereby urge the board and budget committee to take the following actions... .#4. A monetary set-aside for non-traditional recreation activities... included should be Colorado St. Waterway, Neighborhood Skate Parks... ." To date, I can find no direct budgetary allocation in the FY 11/12 budget for any of the citizen requests. Thus, a citizen petition regarding 'skate' issue should not be considered unexpected. Our community made a specific request and BPRD ignored a public call for a specific action.

Then on June 7, 2011 during public testimony, I informed the organization of my desire to have a social contract debate.A properly executed grassroots petition is equivalent to a conscription list and declaration of war. It threatens the established 'order' with new and different ideas. There is nothing wrong with this and it is generally healthy for a community to have one every so often. The national 'Occupy' Movement is another current example. Our 'skate' effort confronted a 'Comprehensive Plan' that may no longer be 'Comprehensive' due to societal issues and social change.

The petition challenged an organization with a $450,000 budget for research, development, citizen input and outreach in Fiscal Year 2011/12 regarding the Miller's Landing Property. This budget produced input in relation to between 400 and 500 individual opinions as of Sept. 6, 2011.

On a budget of under $100, the 'skate' community's effort produced input from over 800 citizens not including public testimony. In addition, over the last 90 days the 'skate' cause received two lead stories in the Bend Bulletin, 2 Bulletin opinion editorial pieces, a KTVZ news story, 3 interviews with KBND and the recent coverage in The Source Weekly. The established public outreach and input process was embarrassed.

BPRD is responsible for the parks and recreation needs of Bend's 80,000 residents. The 'skate' outreach effort communicated with more of those residents than BPRDs within an established time frame. For that reason alone, Nick Brown of Skate Habit is correct in his analysis, "We will end up with a skatepark, one way or another, in the next few years."

Katie Patterson's comment was also correct, "I can't attribute it to anything other than there has to be some internal prejudice. It's the most insane thing that I've witnessed in politics." The recent 'skate' oriented conversation at BPRD was really about discrimination, stereotyping, poverty and the comprehensive plan. In short, how the public's money is allocated, managed and distributed. These are the decisions BPRD is tasked with making for approximately $15 million of the public's money in regards to Bend's quality of life and recreation opportunities.

The Miller's Landing Petition gave a disenfranchised population a significant voice in how these resources are administered. We should all be proud of the independent activism and engagement citizens showed.This progressive effort will benefit everyone that calls Central Oregon home.


Justin L. Gottlieb, Bend


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