Skateboarders pipe up with skate-park dream

Kurtis Gurdak tells Corry City Council that skateboarders in Corry need a place to enjoy their sport without being cited by police. Gurdak and the rest of a group called Skate 2020 would like a skate park built in Corry. Journal photo by Stephen Sears

Mastering a difficult stunt on his skateboard excites Kurtis Gurdak.

“Learning new tricks is a thrill,” said the Corry Area Middle-High School senior, who has been skating since he was 11. “It gives you a good feeling and makes you want to do it again.”

But finding a location in Corry to attempt those tricks has become a real grind for Gurdak and his fellow skaters. There is no skate park in the city and a city ordinance prohibits riding skateboards in many downtown areas and levies fines on those who violate the law.

That’s why Gurdak took on a new challenge Monday night. He addressed Corry City Council in front of a standing-room-only crowd in council chambers.

The skater spoke on behalf of Skate 2020, a group of young people formed in the wake of Corry 2020 Vision, the city’s ongoing visioning process that is mapping out ways to improve the community. Seventeen additional young skaters from the group attended the meeting, some with skateboards under their arms.

“We have a goal to get a skate park or a place where we’re allowed to skate without having the cops on our tail,” said Gurdak, who said he and two of his friends recently were cited in city park for violating the skateboard ordinance.

Gurdak said the three skaters were fined and were required to perform community service. Their boards also were confiscated but have since been returned.

Gurdak said the group that comprises the newly formed Skate 2020 isn’t trying to break the law or damage public property with their skateboards. They simply want a place to legally skate and enjoy the sport they love.

“We understand that skateboarding has a risk of breaking property, but I don’t think anybody in our group has been disrespectful,” he said.

Skate 2020 grew out of Corry 2020 Vision’s Enhancing Recreational Opportunities committee that was formed several months ago with the goal of coming up with ways to provide people with additional things to do in Corry. Visioning surveys completed by community members in late 2009 identified developing a skate park as a high priority.

Enhancing Recreational Opportunities committee member Char Meerhoff never thought she’d jump on the skate-park bandwagon. She told council she was impressed by young skaters who have faithfully attended committee meetings and brainstormed ways to police themselves and get a skate park off the ground.

“If anyone had told me two months ago that I’d be supporting a skate park, I would have thought they were nuts,” Meerhoff said. “I support these kids 100 percent.”

So does fellow committee member Peggy Munn, who said she understands that developing a skate park will take time. Munn asked council to consider establishing a temporary riding area for skateboarders until a skate park can be built.

“They don’t have place to do it,” Munn said. “This is an awesome group of kids. I’m so proud of them. I hope you can at least get them a temporary place to skate.”

Councilman Pat Migliaccio is impressed by Skate 2020. As a member of Corry 2020 Vision’s Enhancing Recreational Opportunities committee himself, Migliaccio knows the plight of the young skaters.

“They’re organized and moving forward,” Migliaccio said.

See the Journal's Tuesday, April 20th edition for full story.

Get on board with law

An ordinance regulating the use of skateboards in the city has been on the books since 2005.

The law pertains to riding bicycles and other recreational items on public property, such as parking lots, private or public property without written permission, or in a way that could result in damage to someone else’s personal property.

According to the ordinance, it is unlawful to use, operate, or ride roller skates, in-line skates, skateboards, scooters and similar equipment along the sidewalk on the following sections of the streets and designated areas:

• Both sides of Center Street from Smith to Pleasant streets.

• The south side of Main Street from First Avenue to Center Street.

• Both sides of Main Street from Center to Concord streets.

• Both sides of South Street from First Avenue to Mill Street.

• Both sides of Washington Street from First Avenue to Maple Avenue.

• The west side of Maple Avenue from Main to Washington streets.

• Both sides of Spring Street from Main to South streets.

• The east side of First Avenue from Main to South streets.

The penalty for violating the ordinance is not less than $25 and not more than $300.

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