Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Here's Why Anchorage Assembly Candidate Amy Demboski May Have Led The Charge Against A Proposed Skateboard Park In Eagle River

Update April 3rd: Amy Demboski won this race; election results discussed in this post.

On January 14th, 2013, the Chugiak-Eagle River Parks and Recreation Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to temporarily kill a proposed skateboard park that would be built on on a disused parcel of land bordering Fire House Lane between Eagle River Road and Seabolt Street. Leading the charge was Board member Amy Demboski, who along with Peter Mulcahy and Bob Lupo, are vying to succeed Debbie Ossiander on the Anchorage Assembly; Demboski introduced the motion to kill the park. Prompting the motion were objections by at least a dozen community members present who said a skate park would bring vandalism, underage alcohol use, drugs and other crimes to the area. They also pointed out the location is adjacent to Eagle River Elementary School, and said a skateboard park would endanger the young students there. The history of skate parks in Anchorage is checkered; one such park located on the west side of Minnesota Drive between Northern Lights Blvd and Spenard Rd. was shut down a couple of years ago after it became a major public nuisance.

Since that time, another Board member, Randy McCain, drafted a motion that will be introduced at the board’s March 11th meeting to rescind Demboski’s motion, not because he favors the skate park, but because the lack of adequate advance public notice or testimony from potential park advocates may have tainted the process in his opinion.

Screenshot of woman confronting skateboarder

But concern about the possibility of an Eagle River skate park becoming a public nuisance is valid. On February 20th, the Daily Mail published a story about a confrontation between a residential property owner and a group of skateboarders who were using her private property to do tricks. The gist of the story is that when she confronted the skateboarders and asked them to leave, they refused. So she confiscated their board, after which one of them audaciously said "That's so obnoxious, stealing people's stuff". After the punks snatch back the board, the woman tries to give chase, but loses her balance and falls over. The punks then run away leaving the woman lying on the ground. The confrontation was captured on this Liveleak video (which apparently does not embed on this blog):

Of course, not all skateboarders behave this way. But enough of them do, which prompted one skateboarder to post a comment to the Daily Mail story condemning their actions. Here's a sampling of the comments, which are overwhelmingly supportive of the lady:

Update March 26th: The three candidates in this race have provided answers to a number of questions posed by the Anchorage Daily News. Here are the links to the pertinent stories:

-- On March 16th, the Anchorage Daily News asked all assembly candidates to name three things they would change about city government.

-- On March 17th, the Anchorage Daily News asked all assembly candidates if they agree with the direction the mayor has been taking the city.

-- On March 18th, the Anchorage Daily News asked all assembly candidates what letter grade they would give to the current assembly.

-- On March 19th, the Anchorage Daily News asked all assembly candidates if they agreed with Mayor Dan Sullivan's proposed labor ordinance (AO 2013-37).

-- On March 21st, the Anchorage Daily News asked all assembly candidates if the city has struck the right balance between services and revenue.

-- On March 22nd, the Anchorage Daily News asked all assembly candidates what could the city do to spur desirable economic development.

-- On March 24th, the Anchorage Daily News asked all assembly candidates their positions on the Title 21 zoning law rewrite.

-- On March 26th, the Anchorage Daily News asked all assembly candidates if city law should prohibit discrimination in housing or employment against gay residents.

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