No surfer or skater likes when their spot gets blown up. At the moment, no one knows that better than skateboarders in Atlanta. The collapse of a freeway bridge on Interstate 85 exposed to the public the existence of an ad hoc skatepark built adjacent to it.
And since the park wasn’t built following a public permitting process, state officials have shut down the park, leading to fears they could shut it down permanently or demolish it. In response, skaters have launched a Change.org petition addressed to Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and state transportation officials, asking them not to let the state destroy their spot.
“Other cities in our nation have been repurposing the underbellies of their expressways for decades,” writes the petition’s author, Jennifer Chesnokov. “Some of our nation’s most famous skateparks reside under interstates. Burnside Skatepark in Portland was built by the skateboard community without permission and eventually the city approved the area as a public skatepark.”
As of Thursday afternoon, the petition needed about 7,500 signatures to reach the goal of 25,000.
As the petition lays out, Atlanta skaters envision a future where their skatepark is a cherished part of the Beltline, a revitalized, pedestrian-friendly stretch that connects areas of the city.
“As the Beltline develops and our city becomes more connected through these trails the skatepark could be preserved as a point of interest,” the petition states.
Famously, Oregon’s Burnside Skatepark was built without legal permission, but was later adopted by the city, and for decades has been cherished by the skate community.
The Tony Hawk Foundation has come out in support of the movement to save the park. “In many, many cases across the nation we’ve seen projects like this gain administrative support and approval and go on to live happy and long lives as recreational facilities,” foundation spokesman Peter Whiteley said. “It’s a beautiful facility and whatever was there before certainly doesn’t match its value.”
Check out some of the support the movement has gained on social media from the likes of skate legend Danny Way no less:
— Danny Way (@dannyway) April 13, 2017
— Volcom Stone (@Volcom) April 14, 2017