Photo and story by Tiffany Brady / Contributing Writer
Skateboarding has been on the rise in the last several years, spreading through cultural groups and cities all around the world. In addition, skateboarding has also offered entrepreneurial business ventures due to its popular culture.
According to a 2016 market study released by Technavio, the global skateboarding equipment market is expected to be valued at over $5 billion by 2020. Many Middle Tennessee cities, including Gallatin, Nashville, Manchester, Shelbyville, Clarksville and Laverne have added parks to accommodate this new trend. In spite of the growing culture, the City of Murfreesboro has yet to take any action to build a city skatepark.
Kaleb Rosario, 15, is a Smyrna High School student and owner of an entrepreneurial brand called “Krunch.” The skater brand has released a small order of T-shirts, sweatshirts and stickers. Rosario said if Murfreesboro built a skatepark, it would keep skaters out of trouble and give them a place to hang out.
“Since Murfreesboro is one of the fastest growing cities, a skate park adds to the community,” said Skyler Rippee, an MTSU sophomore. “It is recreationally inviting to both newcomers and skaters.”
The building of a skate park will not only affect skaters, but it will also affect parents, according to Murfreesboro resident Brian Matthews, 43.
“I have been taking my son to the skate park for several years,” Matthews said. “It is a great way for kids to learn dedication, and if Murfreesboro had a skate park, I would not have to drive to neighboring cities.”
In the hope that the city would see their efforts, Murfreesboro’s skate scene gathered at Murfreesboro City Hall on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018, to protest the city’s lack of a skate park. Groups from all around the Middle Tennessee area joined to show support for their growing community. Some people carpooled, and others brought kickers and ledges, which are ramps and obstacles, for the protest and skate session.
“Skateboarding means everything,” said Brendon Dupree, 19, a Murfreesboro resident. “Skating keeps us outside, meeting new people in the community.”
Drake Ross, 20, a Murfreesboro resident, said he skated for the feeling of “being able to battle” something and because it kept him determined and wanting something in life.
“I skate to keep my anxiety at bay,” said Elyjah Jenkins, an MTSU senior. “It is the only thing that keeps me sane.”
According to Jenkins, there are no legal places to skate in Murfreesboro. In addition, Murfreesboro resident John Woerner, 23, said the City of Murfreesboro has treated skateboarding like an “illness that would go away.”
“If you do not treat an illness, it will only grow, and that is what has happened to the skate scene,” Woerner said.
Rippee said he skated at places like the Franklin Synergy Bank on the Murfreesboro Public Square because it serves as a quiet time to practice something he enjoys. Jenkin said he skated around the city’s library because of the yellow curbs and at schools for the flat-ground spots and ledges.
Superintendent of Murfreesboro’s SportsCom Facilities Bart Fite said the building of a skate park has not yet been discussed but could be a future possibility when the company opens their new recreational facility, West Park. The park is supposed to open near the Blackman area, and, according to an interview from WGNS Radio, the park is expected to open by August 2019 or in spring 2020 at the lastest.
Rippee said the Murfreesboro skate scene plans to organize more events similar to the protest to bring more attention to their cause.
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