Friday, May 1, 2009

Skatelife Memphis' take on Phase I Mud Island River park Report

The RDC sent out the results of the the Phase I Mud Island River park today.

Here is the report

Here is the highlight of the report: We showed up!!

Here are the number of people that participated in each meeting

1. Mud Island meeting- 125 people
2. North Memphis- 8 people
3. South Memphis - 8 people
4. Memphis botanical gardens- 125 people.

We promoted only the first and last meetings and it showed!

The report is long, so please take your time to go through it.

Setting the record straight

We would like to clarify some of the statements left by one of the focus groups.

What surprised us further is the statement they made just prior to this statement.

Here are the statements:

"The distance of MIRP from Downtown is a real challenge, and both 
increasing accessibility and creating a “draw” for repeat visitors is very 
important.  "

We agree completely. So chose a recreational magnet where the user demand outpaces the supply, where access is no concern for the user and chose an activity that has one of the highest repeat-user bases.

And then this statement....

"A large skate park in MIRP would not be the best use; instead, smaller 
skate parks located in parks around the city is a better way to motivate 
resident involvement in skateboarding and is a trend seen around the 

Comparing large and small skate parks is like comparing apples and oranges. Regional size competition parks serve a different purpose then the smaller residential skate parks. The regional park is for competitions, weekend visits by residents and out of town visitors. It's a place to draw fans for skating competitions.

The residential park is for the local residents living near the park. If you build only small parks, particularly in a region like Shelby county where the demand is high, smaller parks become overcrowded from visitors coming in from all over the county. We will see this effect when the first Memphis pubic concrete park is built. It's basically the same as saying the Redbird Stadium is not good for Downtown because we are trying to draw residents into baseball through local baseball fields. Both are needed and serve unique roles that complement each other.

Building smaller parks in residential areas increases the user base which then creates a further need for a larger park. Colorado Springs has 5 skate parks with a population of 600,000. They could not keep up with the demand so the last park they built was their largest at 40,000 square feet. Reports from residents in that area indicate that this park is now over-crowded as well. Cities simply can not build enough skate space because of the overwhelming demand.

Secondly, there is no motivation needed to get kids to skate parks. You build them and they are packed from opening day onward.

What about duplicating efforts?

Another focus groups was concerned about duplicating efforts. For example what if they build a skate park at the Fairgrounds or in Shelby Farms?

Let's do the numbers. Nationally we have 4.5% of the population that skates. That's 45,000 users in Shelby County. A typical sized skate park, at 10,000 square feet, can safely accommodate 30 users. That gives you 333 square feet of space per user. Now if you have 45,000 users you will need 333x 45,000= 14 million square foot park needed. Let's say you over-crowd the park with 60 users. Now you only need 7 million square feet of skate space.

Let's say that we only have 1/10th the national average of skaters. Now we only need 700,000 square feet of skate space for 4500 skaters. 80,000 square feet on Mud Island and perhaps 10-20 10,000 sqft skate parks in Memphis' residential areas starts to make sense. Which is why we have 40 baseball fields in the City because at one time baseball participants had similar participant numbers as the current skateboarding population. So, chances are we won't be duplicating efforts for a long time, especially since each skate park is built with it's own unique elements thus providing a unique riding experience found only at that park.

Our overall take: Building a skate park on Mud Island is far from a done deal. We know that Mud Island needs a skate park to bring back numbers that will sustain the park with visitors year in and year out. We know that skateboarding is the # 3 pass-time in the country but for many skating is an unknown and is perceived to be an activity enjoyed only by the fringe. The Mud Island skate park will become a reality only through overwhelming the next public meetings with your support.

Come to the phase II meetings.......


Anonymous said...

Hi aaron im glad u do this. This is charlie up the street posting this comment. LOL I hope this all works out with mud island. I support your cause litterally, im wearin it!

Anonymous said...

by the way nice half pipe in the back. thx for lettin me use it.