CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — Downtown Charleston skateboarders could soon be taking a u-turn. That is if a new proposal by City of Charleston councilman Mike Seekings is passed.
According to Seekings, there is no legal way for skateboarders to travel across the downtown peninsula without going through current skateboarding restricted zones. His proposal would enforce restricted skateboarding zones and create new set routes for skateboarders to legally get around town.
“What we are trying to do, and what we will do, and this is the objective, is to first define the commercial zones where skateboarding is not to be allowed,” Seekings said.
“From there, find boulevards and corridors through the city for alternate modes of transportation bikes, skateboards and alike with guidelines that everyone is on the same page on.”
As of now, not all skateboarders are on board with the proposal.
“Charleston has a lot of skateboard commuters because of the compact size of the peninsula. Because of the College of Charleston, a lot of those kids get around on skateboards every day,” said skateboarding advocate and executive director of Pour It Now, Ryan Cockrell.
“I think there are so many important things than skateboarding for our police to focus on, like DUI’s, murders, real crime. I think it will be a waste of tax payer dollars to have them go after skateboarders.”
Councilman Seekings said he wants to make the point that he is not trying to ban skateboarding, but that there are no guidelines regulating skateboarding unlike other modes of transportation, such as bicycling.
“There is no rhyme or reason for the matter that people use skateboards in the streets of Charleston; for instance, riding at night without lights, going down one-way streets, not stopping at stop signs,” Seekings said.
“I want people to get out of their cars and onto the streets, but when we do that we have to make sure people do that probably safely and in the right way.”
A public hearing for the skateboarding proposal is expected to take place mid-summer.
Please help us stop the proposed ban on skateboarding in downtown Charleston. Sign the petition in the above link. Below are links to several articles about the issue:
by Mark Davenport, WCSC
A skate park in downtown Charleston is slowly grinding ahead with plans to build. Skaters are one meeting away from finding out whether their dreams will come true.
It’s been years in the making, but the decision on whether an area in downtown will become Charleston’s first skate park could happen in the next two months.
There’s a lot of people who are tired of waiting and are ready to skateboard. Ryan Cockrell and Shannon Smith have a downtown skate park envisioned in their minds underneath Highway 17’s overpass.
The two brain storm about what’s possible for a skating community that grows daily.
“It’s been frustrating, but like everything you learn, things that are worth obtaining take hard work,” Smith said.
But after two years, $68,000 and hard work, they’re still walking through overgrown grass.
Tom O’Rourke, executive director of Charleston County Parks and Rec, was the man who promised the skateboarding community a home. He says the final decision is one meeting in Columbia away.
O’Rourke says if a compromise can be struck, a skate park will be in downtown in the next 14 months. O’Rouke says if the two sides can’t see eye to eye, he won’t spend anymore time and money on the location. He says the skate park will go elsewhere.
If approved, O’Rourke says the skate park will be self-sufficient. The money to build will come from reserves from parks and recreation events and skaters will pay the fees to use the park.
Thursday April 5; 5:30pm Hope & Union (199 SAINT PHILIP STREET BETWEEN SPRING AND CANNON STREETS) will host Skate & Create.
Local and national artists have created exceptional works from skateboards in the form of paintings, sculptures, installations, furniture and more. The original pieces will be sold at auction to raise funds for the Skate Pass program for the Charleston Charter School for Math & Science. The goal amount of $5000 will cover the costs of the curriculum, skateboards and safety equipment necessary for a skateboarding PE class of up to 30 kids. Help us make CCSMS the first school in South Carolina to teach skateboarding in PE class!
Admission is free and the event will feature live music by Indiana Ryan, free hors d’oeurvres, free beer and wine.
Special thanks to the following and many other as yet unlisted participating artists:
Luke Andrew – Tezza, Briana Jacobs, Ben Grant, Jenny Harris,Patch Whisky, RICHARD S. TURNER II, Jeremy Darby “Artifex Jay”, Aimee Cozza, Glenn Collins, Luke Griffith, Lisa M. Shimko, Susan McKellar, Greer Farrell, Nick Samuels, Chris Hudson, Thomas Greer, Jeanette Kaczenas, Jason Filipow, Michael Derrig, John Pundt, Charlie McAlister, Kevin Taylor, Ben Venom, Mike Free, RTMS, Helen Rice, Mason Greenewald, Blake Suarez, Andrew Smock, Fumiha Tanaka, Greg Colleton, Angie Hranowski, The Students of CCSMS Art Class
Part sport, part lifestyle, part art, Skateboarding fosters much more than athletic ability. In South Carolina alone skateboarding has produced School Teachers, Business Owners, Photographers, Film and Video Producers and Editors, Graphic Designers, and Fine Artists. Skateboarders pay close attention to form, style, and the overall aesthetic as they try tirelessly to perfect their abilities. Skateboarding is a goal-oriented activity, rewarding only those willing to put in hours of work. The feeling of landing a trick after thousands of tries is one of pure elation, though most skateboarders never let it show. The connection one forms with a skateboard becomes near inseparable for many, becoming a center through which the rest of one’s life flows.
Charleston bred, internationally acclaimed artist, Kevin Earl Taylor attributes his roots in art as well as his artistic inspiration to skateboarding. Taylor writes, “our creative life was nurtured through skateboarding. Little did we know, but the act of improvising hours of fun from society’s detritus would train our minds to explore the potentiality of our surroundings. Skateboarding was a self-expressive mode, in which we developed individualities and preferences. Through it and the surrounding atmosphere of counter culture, we learned the mechanics of introspection. It was something we did together, but by ourselves. We all had our distinctive styles then, just as we do now. I remember building a ramp using found scraps of wood. For a couple of hours, we’d scoured the ground at the junkyard on Sullivan’s Island, each of us collecting an artillery of rusty, bent and nearly broken nails. With half of a broken brick, we took those and hammered them back into shape. We had learned how to design, conceptualize and construct what we saw in our heads. In 1987, we called them ramps, but now we know, they were indeed our earliest original works.”
Skate and Create 2012 will raise funds to purchase Skate Pass – skateboard PE curriculum and equipment for The Charleston Charter School for Math & Science. This will be the first school in South Carolina to teach skateboarding in PE. Skateboarding distance from the Meeting Street location of the future Charleston County Skateboard park, the Charleston Charter School for Math and Science will have a perfect facility for advanced students to put their lessons to use.
POUR IT NOW, a 501c3 non-profit skateboard advocacy group, is partnering with local and international artists, auctioning donated works of art created using skateboards as media to meet their fundraising goal of five thousand dollars. The funds will be used to pay for the Skate Pass curriculum and equipment, which includes skateboards, pads and helmets for classes of up to thirty students.
The art opening and auction will take place at the end of March, artists of all types are encouraged to participate by picking up a skateboard free of charge from a selection at Continuum Skateshop on Spring street and creating a work of art for the auction. Download the form and fill it out before turning in your artwork at Continuum skateboard shop. All donated art items are due by March 1, 2012. The show date, time and location will be announced on pouritnow.com, Facebook and Twitter.
We need artists! Please donate work to Skate and Create 2012.
If you want to be a part of Skate and Create 2012 please submit work by March 1, 2012. We need artists to create art using a skateboard. It can be an old or new board. You can make a painting a sculpture, or anything you deem to be art. If you have a board to use as your media or canvas, then get to work. Upload photos of your progress to POUR IT NOW’s facebook page or tag #sk8ncre8 on Instagram or Twitter. If you need a board, then head down to Continuum Skate shop (49 Spring Street, Charleston, SC) and pick up a board. They have many options available, but if you have one already it would be a huge help. Once you finish your work, make it ready to hang on the wall and drop it off at Continuum SkateShop.
Art created from the skateboards will be auctioned in Charleston in late March (details to come). Proceeds will allow POUR IT NOW to donate Skate Pass to the Charleston Charter School for Math & Science. Using Skate Pass will allow CCSMS to teach Skateboarding in PE class. Our fundraising goal is $5000.
Watch the video to see a previous Skate and Create reception!
From the Post & Courier April 30, 2011:
Recreational skateboarding differs from the issue of using skateboards as transportation, but recreational skateboarders also have been bruised with bad recent news.
A year ago, the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission agreed to spend $2 million to build a new skate park — one of the largest on the East Coast– under the Ravenel Bridge in downtown Charleston.
Today, it’s still unclear when construction will begin.
“Is everyone frustrated? Yes,” PRC Director Tom O’Rourke said this week. “The frustration is the project is slower than we’d like it to be, but the project in no way is dead.”
The problem has stemmed from a bureaucratic Catch 22.
O’Rourke said his agency didn’t want to spend $60,000 or so designing the park if the Federal Highway Administration and S.C. Department of Transportation would not allow it in the state right of way under the bridge. However, those agencies have said they need to see a design before giving their blessing.
“We don’t like to spend money unless we know for sure that things are going to work out,” O’Rourke said. “We asked them, ‘Why don’t you give us the parameters so we can do the plan?’ And we went back and forth and back and forth and back and forth.”
O’Rourke said he almost gave up on the site until Charleston Mayor Joe Riley agreed to help get the necessary approvals from the highway agencies.
The bureaucratic standoff has irked those like Shannon Smith, a mom, teacher and avid skateboarder who is on the board of the nonprofit group Pour It Now. She and other Pour It Now members appeared before city officials this week asking for their help in keeping the project on track.
O’Rourke said the Park and Recreation Commission could consider a design-build contract for the park at its next meeting, but he still is unsure when a design will be approved and when construction will start.
“We want to start pouring some concrete,” he added. “I’m sure in a year or two, we’ll look back and be pleased, but right now, it’s pretty darn frustrating.”
Jacob Hinton never used his skateboard to get around his hometown of Florence, but when he started classes at the College of Charleston last fall, he found it was the best bet for quick trips downtown.
“It’s safer, more fun and easier to control,” he said of his longboard, a type of skateboard designed more for transit than tricks.
“If you’re going to class, you don’t have to chain it up,” he added. “You can just bring it in with you. You don’t have to worry about it getting stolen.”
William McFadden, 22, a graphic design student at Trident Technical College downtown, has been skateboarding since he was 8 and still uses it to get between his East Side home and class, restaurants and shops.
“It’s a way of transportation for me because I don’t have a car,” he said. “It’s a workout plan for me, too. I can eat anything I want and won’t gain any weight. It’s my everyday exercise.”
Across downtown streets, particularly near colleges, the use of skateboards has risen sharply, much like bicycle use. There’s only one problem: Skateboarding is illegal — at least much of it is — and enforcement is expected to pick up soon.
Until now, skateboard enforcement has been mild.
Both Hinton and McFadden said they have been lectured or warned by police — but not ticketed.
“Once I was skating on the sidewalk, and a cop came up and said, ‘Get off the sidewalk,’ so I’d go in the street,” McFadden said. “One time I was skating in the street, and a cop pulls up and said, ‘Hey, get on the sidewalk.’ ”
However, Charleston City Council soon is expected to give the College of Charleston Public Safety the authority to write municipal tickets so college officers will be able to enforce skateboarding and other city laws.
College of Charleston Public Safety Chief Paul Verrecchia said the change will give his officers another option.
“There’s no state law that covers skateboards,” he said. “To my knowledge, there’s no county ordinance.”
Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen said the change stemmed from his conversations with Verrecchia, and Mullen said he hopes enforcement will increase because he is concerned about skateboarders’ safety.
“We want to prevent a tragedy,” Mullen said, adding that if a skateboarder were seriously injured, even killed, then, “Some would ask, ‘Why weren’t you doing enforcement? Why weren’t you taking steps to keep this from happening?’ ”
Verrecchia said: “If I were speaking to students, I would give them a friendly warning that the campus police now have another option at their disposal to enforce the law. … It won’t be just warnings coming from us. It could be summonses — citations to appear in court.”
Jack Abbott’s Continuum Skateshop on Spring Street does a mix of business, serving those who skateboard just for fun and those who use the boards to get around.
“More and more people are using skateboards to get to class,” he said. “It’s a safe, green healthy form of transportation. It needs to be encouraged, especially the way gas prices are.”
Others are beginning to agree.
Charleston Moves, a nonprofit that advocates human-powered transportation, soon will discuss skateboarding in more depth, as the rise in skateboarding here has mirrored the rise in bicycle use, director Tom Bradford said.
“Personally, I just wonder how it can be outlawed,” Bradford said of skateboarding. “It’s clearly an idea whose time has come.”
Not everyone thinks so. Marvin Katzen drives his “Doin’ the Charleston” tour bus around city streets near the college and has had some ugly brushes with skateboarders, including some who have banged on his bus’ windows and made obscene gestures
“These skateboarders go whipping in and out of traffic, most of the time going the wrong way, particularly on St. Philip Street between Calhoun and Wentworth,” Katzen said. “It’s not a mode of transportation. It’s a toy. The skateboard doesn’t belong on the street.”
But McFadden said he tries to look out for his own safety — and that of others.
“The only type of accident I’ve had on the skateboard is when I hit a rock or didn’t know a curb was coming up,” he said. “I’m constantly looking behind me and in front of me to make sure I’m not hitting any cracks or any pedestrian walking toward me. I try to be conscious of that and respectable.”
Tonight’s meeting was jam packed with important news and updates. Progress is being made on all fronts of Pour It Now’s Charleston Plan. The Divide and Conquer strategy seems to be very effective! First off, The City of Charleston department of Parks is in full support of creating a number of “pocket parks” or skate spots throughout the City. This will begin immediately, so skaters look for some spots to be built and ready to shred in the near future!!! The Ackerman Community Build Project will also be getting underway pending the Final City approval. We will be asking for lots of community involvement, be ready to get your hands dirty! Daniel Island wants a skatepark? Look for Pour It Now to get involved as the details unravel. And last, but certainly not least, The Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission is finalizing the location and logistics for the “Big One!”
POUR IT NOW, Columbia, has launched phase two of it’s skatepark system advocacy campaign. Hunter’s Skate Spot is an idea conceived by the friends and family of Hunter Kuna Hudson in the wake of his untimely death. The pocket park is to be a way to honor Hunter’s memory while providing a positive outlet for kids like Hunter. Watch the video for the full story: