Source: Logan News Group
Date: July 28
Byline: Jason Alvarez and D. Michael Blackie
Support Builds for Free LOVE Park MovementBipartisan Council Members and City Planner Join Momentum
As the support for lifting the ban on skateboarding builds, mayor Street and his campaign spokesperson Frank Keel are unusually quiet about the clamor building in favor of skate boarders. Meanwhile, two more City Council voices have weighed in, and in support of returning LOVE to skaters.
City Councilman Frank Rizzo (R-At-Large), and Marian Tasco (D-9th District), have joined City Planning Commission Chair Maxine Griffith in calling for acceptance of a compromise plan on LOVE Park. That plan proposed by Skateboard Advocacy Network would allow skate boarders access to the park once again. The plan contains some ideas for amendments to the already amended park, and restricted hours for skateboarding. Key proponents of that plan include Skateboard Advocacy Network's Andrew Hohns and Scott Kip.
Previously Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds-Brown (D-At-Large) called that plan "Truly outside the box thinking". She applauded the plan "Because it comes from the young people" Reynolds-Brown joined colleague Rick Mariano (D-7th District) in calling for the mayor to lift the ban on skating. She and Mariano are usually seen as staunch supporters of mayor Street and have been known to vote along with him. Not this time. Not on this hot button issue.
Street spokesperson Christine Ottow has said that Griffith has called "a meeting with all the proponents of the plan (sometime) next week" . But, not so fast...it remains to be seen where Street himself stands on this issue. Ottow went on to say that Street is committed to building the alternative skate park, proposed over two years ago along the Schuylkill River near the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Yet, funding for the site has never materialized nor have any "Plans".
Frank Keel, Street's Press Secretary has been unusually quiet about the momentum building in favor of skaters. Keel is most remembered for his "Tough, Get Over it, it's Over." comment made after Street closed, and redesigned LOVE Park. Skateboarders say that move was prompted by businesses contributing to Street's campaign coffers. Recently, a major developer, Daniel Keating has come out in favor of reopening the park as well. Keating's offices overlook LOVE Park from the newly refurbished "Phoenix" high rise across the street. Keating's plan also calls for some additional modifications to the site and contains a plan for converting the former tourist information building as well.
Mayor Street's campaign Director of Communications, Mark Nevins was out of the office this week and unavailable for comment. But, it appears that the ban on skateboarding (City Code 10-610) is almost crumbling before the eyes of the mayor who helped craft it. A private developer is creating an indoor skate "Bowl" as well, to be named "Zone 10" after the ordinance. That skate park will be located in a vacant warehouse in the city's Fishtown area near Delaware and Frankford Avenues. The once prosperous Acorn Iron Works building will be transformed and it will take "enough lumber to build three 2,000 square foot homes." according to sources. That site, long a vacant eyesore will become a bustling activity center for recreation and revenue enhancement. All without city support.
At one time the skate boarders were called a "small special interest group", but, it seems their size and the clarity of their unified voice on this issue has been heard by some legislators and the trend is beginning to lean in favor of skate boarders. The tide is beginning to turn, and "Skater-Haters" Beware, you may be washed out with that tide.