Tuesday, February 09, 2010

"...a day they thought would never arrive"

In case you haven't been keeping track, this is the 16th story I've written about our skate plaza project over the last 3 1/2 years (you can read them all here).

Austin at his first meeting with our Mayor in 2006, and last night

To say this skate plaza has been controversial would be the understatement of the millennium. In the last 3 months alone this issue has been debated through dozens of letters to the editor, 4 public hearings and several more board meetings.

But finally, finally, FINALLY - after 3 1/2 years of considering at least 8 different park locations within the city, the decision came down to a single vote last night by our City Council on whether or not the plaza should be built at Heritage Park.

Not, however, before we enjoyed one more hour and a half of public debate. And even though we had to endure several long-winded complaints by opponents of the project, we were also treated to eloquent testimonies by courageous teenagers who stepped up to the microphone to plead their cases as well.

One young man even presented this oustanding original poem:
Man Made Criminals - By Eric Pederson
I’m a criminal because man has made me into a criminal.

Ordinance 384 – Skateboarding prohibited. Two words written on a piece of paper.

Two words of incantation that when written in proper places can transform placid participants into what I am today… a criminal.

An apathetic punk. Let loose with no regard for boundaries, no regard for the well being of personal properties. I’m no better than a grifter.

There has to be consequences for men like me. Men who go to school five days a week, who work part time jobs to pay for their rent and groceries. Men who at the end of a long week, feel they deserve some time off. Some time to go outside and participate in a sport.

So convict me. Confine me to a fenced off square of asphalt. Tell me to behave “or else,” and I will comply.

Why shouldn’t I? This is exactly what I’ve asked for. A confined piece of America where I can be free. Where I can live and learn for free. Free from worry. Free from prosecution. Free to enjoy my hobby, my sport, my passion.

Skateboarding… free from any legal repercussion.
Eventually, it was time to vote on the decision. And then, as if time had suddenly transcended itself forward from years of relentless work to a single, magical moment in time - the president of the City Council asked for the vote.

And as you can see here by this standing ovation... THE SKATE PLAZA WAS APPROVED!!!

Photo courtesy of Kimm Anderson - St. Cloud Times

People cheered, hugged and cried as advocates from as far back as 1996 were there to celebrate a day they thought would never arrive. Now, these same people will be skating on their hard-earned plaza this summer.

We still have a lot of work to do of course, but the hardest part is over. When the media reported in 2006 that "If all goes as planned, Austin could see his dream come true by the time he graduates in 2010," we all laughed, because we never imagined it could possibly take that long.

Well guess what, it did take that long. And guess what else... I think the media has seen the political process in action before.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
St. Cloud Times - Skate plaza push passes council, 5-2 (video clip included) 


Unfinished Rambler said...

5-2. Without going back to your last post about this, but wasn't the vote 4-3? It sounds like you had more support than then this time around. Congratulations to you, your son and the entire community.

Ed said...

So by the time it is done and ready to skate on...will your son still be skateboarding?

Roger Miller said...

Awesome!! Way to stick with it Austin!

Ed said...

Sweet! Hearty congrats to Austin and the city.

Anonymous said...

It was wonderful to be there when the vote was cast!!! I did get tears in my eyes!! Congratulations, Austin---and Jeff and Charli--you've all worked so long and hard for this. I am so happy-happy-happy!!!

mom said...

P.S. I signed it " mom" but it printed Anonymous---just wanted you to know it was me!!!

Elizabeth said...

Wow, I got teary eyed just reading about it! A big congratulations Austin to all of your and every one's hard work!!

deborah said...

what a great job! again. here's hoping the local government will allow it this time. I'll have to send you pics of our skate park! You may just have to bring him here to use it.

Mom Thumb said...

Few teens (or their families) get to have an experience like this. If Austin can accomplish this at his age, makes me wonder what we are going to be reading about on future blogs!

JD at I Do Things said...

Oh, my gosh. You must be so proud of Austin. He looks so distinguished in that photo!

And that poem sent chills up my spine.

Kids today!

April said...

I'm a little teary-eyed, too!
Congrats to Austin. I can't imagine how proud you must feel right now.

United Studies said...

That is awesome! It also makes me shake my head in disbelief that it took SO LONG for them to approve a skate plaza. Those same people who complained about such a project are the same ones that would complain teenagers and young kids have nothing to do in their spare time.

Maureen said...

Awesome! Congrats to you all... I am so impressed! I hope they have a huge party on opening day!

Michelle said...

Whooooo! Yay Austin. It's amazing to see how much he's grown in the past few years. Congrats to him. I assume we'll see the ribbon cutting ceremony?

Anonymous said...

Hi Jeff, I've been meaning to give you this link...so here you are. so proud of Austin...this is huge.