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Venice skateboarders win battle over who gets first dibs on skate park

August 11, 2009 |  5:12 pm

After spending more than 15 years fighting for a place to show off their kickflips and ollies, a group of Venice activists weren’t about to sit back and let commercial promoters skate off with their work.

So Warner Bros. Consumer Products and ASA Entertainment won’t be inaugurating the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks’ new $2.5-million public skateboard park at Venice Beach after all.

The two companies last month announced that their Labor Day “Supergirl Jam” would be the premier event at the new three-basin skateboard complex next to the Venice boardwalk near Windward Avenue. The event would be “in conjunction with the opening of Venice’s amazing new beachside skate park,” Warner Bros. and ASA Entertainment bragged in a July 24 announcement.

Members of the Venice Skateboard Assn. reacted as if they’d been smacked with a concrete face-plant. “Did these people think we just fell off our skateboards yesterday?” fumed Ger-I Lewis, an association leader who helped the city plan and then oversee construction of the new park.

Another longtime Venice skater, Anthony Converse, said the “Supergirl Jam” announcement “has the local community and greater skateboard community in a near insurrection level of outrage and feeling of betrayal.”

 Outside the skate park’s construction fence, skateboarder John Smith gazed longingly at the unfinished swimming pool-size basins. “We have to have first crack at it. It’s wrong for an outside group to get first dibs,” said the 20-year-old.

Last week, various skateboarders and skating groups complained to parks officials and to L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Venice-area City Councilman Bill Rosendahl that the opening of the skateboard park should be staged by and for locals.

This week, parks officials agreed. They pledged that “the people who have been waiting forever for that skate park will be the ones” who inaugurate it and skate there first."

--Bob Pool in Venice