The Northfield Skateboard Coalition and skateboard park website has moved to a new location. You can now find us here.
In the left sidebar of this blog, you’ll see a GiveMN.org widget that allows you to make a secure online donation to the Northfield Skateboard Coalition through its fiscal agent, the Northfield Healthy Community Initiative. All donations will go toward designing and building a permanent skateboard park in Old Memorial Park in Northfield.
In 1986, Northfield passed an ordinance that prohibited skateboarding within “the central business district.” Three years later, the late Bev Finholt, then a member of the Northfield City Council, questioned the skateboard prohibition, and the mayor, Jerry Anderson, brought up the possibility building a city skateboard park.
That was in 1989.
Fast forward to 2006. A group of young skateboarders, mostly sixteen- and seventeen-year olds, formed the Northfield Skateboard Coalition. Their mission was to raise money to build a permanent skateboard park in Northfield. Within a year, the Skateboard Coalition had secured and matched a $10,000 grant from the Northfield Healthy Community Initiative, and hoped to move forward with construction of a skateboard park in Old Memorial Park near the municipal outdoor swimming pool.
Fast forward again to 2014. Fast forward, but keep in mind that for the youth involved, the process over the past eight years has moved in agonizing slow motion. The youth who founded the Skateboard Coalition in 2006 have all grown up—with college degrees, and jobs, and some with children of their own—and another generation of skateboarders has inherited their effort to create a skateboard park. After several years of inaction, the Northfield City Council in December 2012 approved Old Memorial Park as the site of the skateboard park, and allocated $60,000 toward the design and construction of the park. Now there’s another $50,000 to be raised.
Though I’ve never skateboarded, I became involved with the Skateboard Coalition in early 2012. Amy Merritt, then the executive director of The Key (Northfield’s youth center), knew she would soon be moving on to other opportunities, and wanted to make sure there was another adult working with the Coalition. At the time, the Coalition was under the capable and dynamic leadership of Frank Meyer, a high school senior and non-skateboarder who was instrumental in securing a site for the skateboard park. In April 2013, Frank and the other youth members of the Skateboard Coalition were awarded the Making a Difference Award from the Northfield Healthy Community Initiative for their efforts on behalf of youth in the Northfield community. Throughout the years, the skateboarders have been models of civility and public engagement, attending numerous city meetings, respectfully advocating for their cause, and earning the respect of City officials and staff, neighbors, and members of the community at large.
It’s been twenty-five years since the possibility of creating a skateboard park in Northfield was first raised. Temporary skateboard parks have come and gone, but the city is still without a permanent park, despite years of hard work on the part of local skateboarders and their supporters. We’re closer than we’ve ever come to getting a skateboard park. You can help finally make that dream a reality. I hope you’ll join me in supporting the Northfield Skateboard Coalition.Skateboarding provides young people with opportunities to participate in a demanding and rewarding physical activity, encourages healthy behaviors, and provides a sense of place and of belonging to a community. A skateboard park will provide a public place for skateboarders to practice their skills that is safer and less disruptive than streets and sidewalks. A skateboard park will serve the recreational needs of a population of youth not currently served by the City’s recreational facilities. Finally, a skateboard park will be a valuable investment in Northfield’s youth, and a recognition of the involvement of youth in the process of building and strengthening our community.
Congratulations to Cecilia Cornejo, who was awarded a $5,000 McKnight Established Artist grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council (SEMAC). The funds will enable her to complete With the Skateboarders, an experimental documentary project filmed entirely in Northfield. Additionally, the grant will allow her to stage a premiere in Northfield, and make the film available for wider viewing. Cecilia is an advisor to the Skateboard Coalition, and has been working with them on the documentary.
In January, the city sent out a Request for Proposals (RFP) to three skateboard park design firms. On February 11, 2014, proposals came back from two firms: Spohn Ranch and Pillar Design Studios. The proposals will be discussed, and a recommendation made, at the next PRAB meeting, which will take place at 7:00 pm on Thursday, February 20, 2014, at the Northfield Public Library meeting room. A packet for the meeting can be found here. The skateboard park materials begin on page 29.
In February 2014, the adult advisors of the Skateboard Coalition (Jane McWilliams, Cecilia Cornejo, and Rob Hardy) received the Making a Difference Award from the Northfield Healthy Community Initiative (HCI). You can read the story in the Northfield News by clicking the image below.
The youth members of the Skateboard Coalition received the Making a Difference Award in early 2013.
In 2006, the Northfield Healthy Community Initiative (HCI) helped the Skateboard Coalition get started with a $10,000 matching grant. This morning, three adult advisors to the Coalition (Jane McWilliams, Cecilia Cornejo, and Rob Hardy) presented an update on the skateboard park to the board of Northfield HCI, and requested that HCI serve as fiscal agent for the Coalition. from the beginning, The Key has served as the Coalition’s fiscal agent, and we are grateful for that long and supportive relationship, but both parties thought it would be best for the Coalition to start its next phase of fundraising with a new fiscal agent. The details of the agreement between the Coalition and HCI will be worked out in the coming weeks.
If promoters can reach their fundraising goal of $3.5 million, Des Moines, Iowa, will one day be the home of the largest skateboard park in the United States. The 65,000 square foot park, designed by California Skateparks, will be located along the banks of the Des Moines River, and will be incorporated into the Des Moines Riverwalk. You can find out more about the park here.