Monday, May 11, 2009


Skatelife Memphis Booth

The second round of public meetings for the Mud Island River Park Land Use Study are comingup this week. The actionists from Skatelife Memphis are asking that skatepark supporters, be they skaters or not, turn out. The meeting details:

1.Memphis Botanical Gardens
Tuesday May 12th, from 5:45 - 7:15 pm
Location: Memphis Botanic Gardens, 750 Cherry Road (near Audobon Park)

2. Downtown Meeting

Thursday May 14th from 5:45 - 7:15 pm
Location:MIRP Harbor Landing, 101 Island Drive (gate security will give directions) Basically drive to Mud Island and go through the security gates. It's on Mud Island.

Plus check out the findings from the first round.

To me these reports look like the skatepark supporters are making their voices heard loud and clear. There's opposition from Park Services (fearing competition for their much anticipated neighborhood skatepark) and the Regional Chamber (for reasons unknown) to a Mud Island skatepark but every other stakeholder group appears to support or be neutral on it. And the support for it at the open meetings has dwarfed every other idea.

I don't know what will be presented on Tuesday and Thursday but I think skatepark's too big to completely ignore. But look for the machinations of a powerful and secretive cabal of NIMBY geezers if the study recommends putting the skaters under the I-40 bridge, or some other unvisible location.

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Blogger Randal Cooper said...

Just as a curiosity, do you know why the skatepark we had closed? Was it liability, lack of support, or some other reason?

9:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was a private-run skate park.
Private skate parks were and are still not good business ventures.

Most skate parks are public skate parks these days.

9:11 AM  
Blogger Randal Cooper said...

Yes, but why is it not a good business venture? Skaters don't like paying money to skate? Insurance costs astronomical? Doesn't fit with the "punk" aesthetic?

While I have no theoretical opposition to a skate park on Mud Island, were I in the city council I'd have a tough time justifying the expenditure (minimal though it might be) for a public amenity that benefits a tiny segment of the population, located in an exceptionally inconvenient (though very visible) location, based on some hand-waving about it being a tourist destination, when they couldn't support the (admittedly private, but very nice in my experience) facility that was located at a population center with considerable disposable income.

9:28 AM  
Anonymous Reuben D. Rock said...

Hey Randal,

Private skateparks are expensive to run. They're usually a labor of love to the owner, and not so much of a "cash cow." The lease on SPOM's location off Trinity was astronomical. I would know - a friend of mine had 4 spaces in the next building over. Sure, the kids in the suburbs have disposable income. But a cheaper building in Bartlett might have been better suited for the skatepark from the beginning.

That said, I'm not necessarily in favor of Mud Island as a location. A public skatepark is a great idea - but how easy is it to bring the suburban crowd to downtown Memphis? Put 5 of their favorite bands in a nice venue in mid/downtown, and you still won't get a spectacular turnout. Nobody wants another dead project sitting in downtown Memphis.

I'm certainly not going to drive my kids all the way to Mud Island, drop them at the skatepark, and then head back out of downtown to do my weekend errands. I love this city, but that doesn't mean I'll blue sky every well-intentioned project proposal. Let's look a little deeper, find a more ideal spot for this public skatepark, and then move forward. I don't want to hide the public skatepark under a bridge, I just want to see it have more success than it will find at Mud Island.

10:15 AM  
Blogger Kristopher said...

I am going to try and clear up a few misconceptions people seem to have about the skatepark project and skateboarding in general.

Misconception #1: "Skateboarding is only done by a small segment of suburban kids." According to a survey by the Sporting goods manufactures of America, Skateboarding is the 3rd most popular outdoor activity in the nation. More kids skateboard than play little league these days. Skateboarding also includes a broad cross section participants from all walks of life. Check out our work with goldenchild ministries for an example.

Misconception #2: "The downtown location of the skatepark will pose a problem." The kind of skatepark we are purposing for Mud Island will have a national if not global draw. I myself will regularly drive nearly an hour just to go to the closest decent park in Oxford, MS. That park is appox. 10% the size of the Mud Island park. The Louisville Extreme park, at half the size of the purposed Mud Island park, has drawn in visitors from all over the globe. I was staying out in San Diego at the time Louisville was built and, in an area teaming with great skateparks, all people could talk about was getting out to Louisville to skate that new monster park.

Mud Island has a lot of positives going for as far as location goes. The unique location would be a draw in itself. Also the controlled access of the island adds an extra measure of security we couldn't achieve in other locations. Lastly, the visibility of the area is worth a thousand billboards in advertising.

Misconception #3: "We want a skatepark on the island for the skateboarers/BMXers/Roller Bladers, ect." No. We want a skatepark on the island for the benefit of the island. While I admit I would love to be able to skate the nation's largest skatepark without buying a plane ticket, that isn't the real reason we are advocating a park. For those who know the numbers, a world class skatepark along with a few more amenities for everyone in the family looks like a perfect recipe for success. It's a virtually maintenance free, inexpensive, national draw that keeps people coming back week after week. Our vision shows the Mud Island River Park as a place the whole family wants to be whenever they can, not just a place to check out once and be done with.

Also, while the park on Mud Island will be a big step in the right direction, it will not come close to providing enough area for Memphis' skateboarding population. No single park (even an 80,000 sq ft one) can handle all of us. We will also need parks in all areas of town. Smaller neighborhood parks are what's needed to provide safe skating areas for the Memphis skaters. Large world class parks are like the giant waterslide parks to the neighborhood swimming pool of a local skatepark. They serve different rolls and provide different benefits.

I have gone on too long now and I have no more room to go into things like the improvement on the quality of life or other positive impacts a park like this would have. If you want to know more, Please check out or look up Skatelife Memphis on Facebook. We would be only too happy to answer any questions you may have.

If you made it to the end here, then I applaud your attention span and I thank you for your time.

Kris Gurley
Memphian and Skateboarder

11:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was at a "stakeholder" meeting and we certainly weren't in favor of it. Does memphis need a skatepark? Sure. On Mud Island? No. It is entirely incompatable with any existing or other discussed use and would not be a good fit for the island. It is possibly the worst idea for the island that has been floated, except for the pie in the sky amusement park idea from a few years back.

12:41 PM  
Anonymous elaine said...

What other ideas would work? I feel like the Mud Island folks aren't taking the skatepark idea seriously and are using the "inconvenient location" as an excuse to blow off the suggestion. No matter what one proposes for Mud island, it will be inconvenient. I was at the last meeting, and pretty much every other idea that was floated around already exists elsewhere. What is going to make Mud Island stand out?

1:04 PM  
Anonymous LOWRY said...

TO ALL; I use to run the Indoor park, and yes it was a labor of love as someone mentioned, thank you!. A lot of nights we would have over 1000 kids packed in there. We had to generate an ungodly amount of money a month just to break even because of our high rent and insurance but we did, and for several years... I have over 10,000 singed waviers from kids and families that came thru our doors just to skate, the majority being from TN. AR. and MS. Sure the indoor park had to close but it wasn't because of the lack of participants!!! We need a skatepark in Memphis!!

2:31 PM  
Anonymous sherman said...

I love it! "It is entirely incompatable with any existing or other discussed use and would not be a good fit for the island."
This is utter b.s.!
1) Most obviously, there is NO existing use of this space. Hasn't been since Mud Island was formed in 1915. So far, you're completely wrong.
2)A skate park is not incompatible (sp. check, please) with the current scale model of the Mississippi. Imagine this: skate over to Mud Island on the monorail, skate down a ramp by the mini-Mississippi River model paralleling the river all the way to the skate park at the end of the island. This is the best use I have ever heard for this ghost town known as Mud Island. (The skate competition on the Island circa '87 was one of the best received & attended events Mud Island ever had!)

"It is possibly the worst idea for the island that has been floated"...says you, not the hundreds of people who showed up so far in support of a skatepark, dwarfing all other constituencies attending. How many other groups in Memphis can get over 400 people to show up at the Fairgrounds on a rainy Tuesday afternoon with little advanced notice? Skate Memphis did last year.

No wonder you post anonymously. I wouldn't put my name on such baseless, unfounded opinions either.

3:23 PM  
Blogger Eric Mathews said...

Local excellence brings global prominence -- I think both Mud Island and Memphis need this regional/national competition skate park. I'm not even a skater and I believe it is an excellent choice.

3:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First, before you make a smart alec spell check comment, you might want to learn to spell incompatible. Second, I post anon because I don't tend to spend much time posting on sites like this, but came by this one and thought I would offer my opinion. Third, you don't appear to take well to opposing views or appear to be particularly interested in a dialogue, so I will not take the time to rebut the obvious errors in your post. I will say that if other skate park supporters are as hot headed and poor at debating as you, then I am really against having folks like that hanging around Mud Island. heck I may change my opinion and be against a skate park anywhere. And its great that you have lots of folks show up. It really is. But this isn't a numbers game. You will lose this fight and there is nothing you can do about it. Heck, I might show up this week now just to make sure. Because I will tell you this - you may try to intimidate folks into not disagreeing with you, but when I spoke out against the skate park idea in my stakeholder meeting, every single person in the meeting agreed. And so if someone needs to stand up to stop you skaters from thinking you have no opposition, I just might do that now.

3:41 PM  
Blogger gatesofmemphis said...

but what stakeholder group, anon 12:41? Was your opposition noted in the reports? And why is it incompatible and the worst idea?

Several things I wanted to add based on what I know from my encounters with Skatelife folk (I'm not a board member or anything like that):

* this is a land use study for Mud Island, not a site selection committee for the one and only skatepark in Memphis. Skatelifers have said many times that Memphis can add many parks to the number Memphis has now (0) before they believe we're saturated. Mud Island is not the only location and may not be the first if Park Services completes the park they're already budgeted for. That said the Skatelife founders have made it their dream to put a regional to national scale park on Mud Island. But that doesn't mean they don't want parks elsewhere.

* The funding could be private; it isn't necessarily coming from the city. At this point, the Skatelife folk want access to a strip of land that has seen no regular use 'cept lawnmowing since the Island formed.

* are they a tiny segment of the population? I don't know, but they have shown passion and numbers at meetings over and over again when called. Now that might be tiny sliver of Memphis' population (just like a standing-room only crowd at City Hall chambers would still just be tiny) but passion and showing up should count a lot when we make decisions about our city's future. Unless we want to get into a Memphis version of the silent majority.

* the turnout _was_ spectacular at this quickly-called skate event put together last year on a week's notice, communicated by flyers, myspace and word-of-mouth, held in a barn deep inside the empty, desolate fairgrounds. They couldn't have fit more people in there without it being dangerous for skaters. There were families, single teenagers and adults, and onlookers like me.

* like Eric, I am not a skater. At this point, my children aren't skaters. But I believe a skatepark, especially one built for both skaters and the visual spectacle that they'll bring to that tip of the island will be a big success for Mud Island and Memphis.

4:27 PM  
Anonymous sherman said...

I think you should bring as many people as you can to these meetings. That is what they are for. So far, the major constituency attending has been Skatelife folks who want more parks for outdoor recreation for Memphis citizens and visitors.

The report I read said 43% of the the attendees wanted a skatepark on Mud Island. That is the most number of suggestions of any recommendation from attendees (tied with water ferries) for changes to Mud Island! Chamber of commerce and Parks Commission did not. Ironically, the Parks Commission works for the people, who want a skatepark, but "they" do not want one there. Wierd, but true! These are facts and you merely cast aspersions and opinions.

Anyway, I'll be at the downtown meeting with other skatepark supporters. Hope to see you there supporting the citizens of Memphis who want something positive & cool for this city on 100 year old abandoned property! (I'll be the guy holding the dictionary)

5:15 PM  
Anonymous sherman said...

P.S. "You will lose this fight and there is nothing you can do about it."

Unlike you, I have ultimate faith in Benny Lendermon to listen to the taxpayers of this city and deliver a world class skate park. This man raised $25 million for a boat dock, for crying out loud! It should be no problem for him to raise 4% of that expense for a park that will actually pay dividends to the city, its taxpayers, and visitors.

5:28 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

"Yes, but why is it not a good business venture? Skaters don't like paying money to skate? Insurance costs astronomical? Doesn't fit with the "punk" aesthetic?"

For the same reason that baseball fields,basketball courts and football fields are not good business ventures. They are public domain.

As for insurance, the skate park is treated as play ground equipment.

With all do respect, we would not be working so hard on this if we were representing a tiny population of people. Standing at #3 as a current national pass-time is a significant group of people.

Reuben: Skaters from Bartlett/outlying east Memphis areas already drive themselves to Marion, Ark, Southhaven and Hornlake Mississippi skate parks intended for the kids in the immediate surrounding neighborhoods. Mud Island would be closer to any of these current options.

I completely respect anyone's right to disagree or not support this project. That's fine, but I would ask that you first look at the data and do the research. I would be more then happy to sit down and address your concerns and give a presentation to your group about what we are trying to do here. Feel free to contact me at the website and we can talk further.

1:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How is it going to fit on the southern tip of the island? Louisville's park is 40k sq ft. Where exactly will it be built? What will it supplant from the existing island? What about the fact that the southern tip is prone to pretty severe flooding?
Is a skate park consistent with what is there now and that most people want to keep - the riverwalk, etc?

10:43 AM  
Blogger Kristopher said...

I hope this will shed a little light on some of the confusion.

The area surveyed for the 80,000 sq ft park is on the bare grassy area between the flag polls and the "gulf". This is an area that has stood empty since Mud Island was built. It is elevated on a level even with other public areas of the park that I have never witnessed having been flooded. So we have the space and we need not remove any existing feature of the Mud Island River Park. I see it as a way to maximize the potential of the park.

As stated before, while a skatepark may not seem consistent with the theme of the River Park, themes and obstacles could be incorporated in it's design to help it mesh with the park. A "rolling river" snake run jumps immediately to mind. Plus you would be hard pressed to find anything "consistent" that would have close to the same draw for triple the cost.

Another factor that a skateparks have over most "traditional" attractions is that as a participant's skills grow his skatepark experience changes. This keeps a park fresh and new for a long time, insuring many repeat visits from the same individual. If I go to an aquarium or similar attraction, I go once and I am not attracted to return unless there is a major (costly) revamp. This is just one of the reasons that I believe a skatepark, along with a few more "active" attractions, to be your best bet for the lasting success of the Mud Island River Park.

12:00 PM  
Blogger gatesofmemphis said...

Adding to what Kristopher said, this is the proposed location. It's above the 100 year flood level.

12:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well I hope you folks have hired an engineer who can say that building it there is feasible. But that aside, at least we agree that the skate park is inconsistent with the island as it exists now. I'd say one consistent use would be a park, with jogging, walking biking trails, etc. This idea would at least be one that would be of use of the entire population of the city as well as visitors. A skate park is of use to skaters. Period. Also, I'd argue that the crowd drawn to a skate park is, for the most park, inconsistent with the crowd drawn to the other existing uses of the island, at both sides. I simply don't understand why, save the desire to have a skate park in a very visible spot, the skate park must be on Mud Island, why we must give to one specific group the use of a large swath of public land.

12:36 PM  
Blogger Kristopher said...

Walking and biking trails already exist within the park. We are not taking those away. We are also not saying we just want a skatepark and nothing else. We are also advocating for a large playground, a "splash park", extended hours and other changes to make the park more attractive to everyone. The skatepark is the anchor that will get Mud Island the press and attention it needs and will also draw in participants and their families down to the island over and over.

As to why it must be on the Island, there are several factors which we can point to. You already mentioned the visibility. There is also the unique location which, since inception has had no other use. This location would provide an experience that no other city could readily match. Possibly the most important reason though is opportunity. With the island getting a major facelift now, we are able to both help the River Park and the city as well as the Skaters, Bikers and others from across the nation. It could be 5 to 10 years before we have another chance like this. Memphis and Mud Island need positive change now.

Skateboarding (and BMX biking and roller blade-ing) are very visually interesting activities that draw a large number of spectators also. Whenever I skated at the Vans skatepark in Orange, CA., spectators regularly outnumbered those actually using the park. I could foresee a number of people heading over to the island just to check out what was going on over there. While on the island they would be exposed to the other attractions, both existing and yet to be built, that they haven't been aware of.

Just for the record, a feasibility study on the skatepark idea has already been done. Everything is a go from location to soil compatibility. So far, misunderstanding and lack of previous experience with the subject have proved to be much larger stumbling blocks.

1:15 PM  
Blogger Kristopher said...

"...why we must give to one specific group the use of a large swath of public land."

With all due respect, I must address this quote directly. This "one specific group" already outnumbers the number of baseball players in the city. Yet we have over 40 public baseball fields to accommodate this specific group. Why should they be allowed the use of public land and not skateboarders? I do not intend to be combative or disrespectful. I am merely trying to illustrate the kind of misunderstanding we have been faced with since this project began back in 2007. If we had purposed a Soccer Field or Baseball Diamond, I am positive we would not have met with any opposition. They are not consistent with the river theme nor do they have the numbers behind them that a skatepark does, but they are understood.

This knowledge gap has and continues to be our biggest obstacle. The more light and understanding we can shed on this subject would help all of us in coming to a mutually beneficial conclusion.

1:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"So far, misunderstanding and lack of previous experience with the subject have proved to be much larger stumbling blocks." Ouch.
And let's not set up straw men here. I wouldn't be for a baseball field there either, and no one has suggested one, so let's dispense with that one right now. Feasibility study done, great. I didn't know that. I don't think, as that quoted comment suggests, I am somehow too misinformed to express an opinion. Sorry. You still did not address the other issues I raised, and I don't agree with you, but I appreciate the tone with which you discussed it. Good luck to you.

2:25 PM  
Blogger Eric Mathews said...

Isn't there a meeting tonight at the Botanic Gardens -- 5:30pm? I hope that people show up to express their views there as well. GatesOfMemphis Blog is a good forum but the real deal is more important. I wish I could be there. #Sk8Mud

2:36 PM  
Anonymous Jonathan McCarver said...

I will be at the meeting tonight and hopefully thursday as well.

Is the main concern of people opposing skatepark demographics? I know that hasn't been discussed but I think it's the heart of what makes the opposition have such an immediate decision.
I plan on using the park if it is made but I haven't skated in a few years now. I used to live in Germantown and use the Houston High School park regularly. Now I live in the heart of midtown Memphis and I don't have a suitable place to skate the way I want without causing any damage or problems for people. I am 26 and I have a white collar job doing web development. There is nothing on my criminal record but a few traffic tickets and I make an effort to contribute to my community. I also like to skate.

There defiantly are skaters that go against authority and who get in trouble. They are not the 'in crowd' at their schools and they don't want to be but that is the same group of people that your artists come from. Many people I know now that are part of our local moviemaking scene gained that interest and skill making skate videos.
Memphis is a city of art as much as it is a place of commerce and it just so happens that this art form is one of great physical skill and movement. We need more INTERESTING ways for people of our city to be active. Every park we have has walking trails but we still wind up on top of the fat lists because our citizens have nothing healthy to be enthusiastic about.

If you think that it is not a good idea for the overall well being of the city then I understand and I want to hear the reasons that you feel that way because I don't want a symbol of wasted effort at our riverfront if it should fail but please don't let the prejudice you feel against skaters because you don't relate to them at a personal level block a great opportunity to bring the reputation of our city up in the eyes of many many people both here and traveling.

3:25 PM  
Blogger Kristopher said...

I apologize. My comments were meant to address more of the general misunderstanding that this project has been facing. You are certainly entitled to your opinion and I can respect that. We need opposing views to help strengthen our plan to make it more beneficial to everyone. However no idea, no matter how good it seems, has ever been met with universal approval. There are always two sides to everything.

Getting back to your particular issues, I have been trying to address them all. Once again I will review.

Inconsistency is an issue that you have frequently expressed. Myself and others have offered counters here. I stated with a little input at the design end with some river themed obstacles that a skatepark would be at least as consistent as the Walking/Running/Biking trails, kayak and paddle boat rentals and the Amphitheater already in use on the island.

You also had some concern over the type of crowd that the skatepark would draw vs. what the other attractions are expected to draw. First, by example of this revamp and land use study, the lack of any crowd is a known issue. In as far as your concern is addressed, 78% of the "crowd" that the skatepark would bring to the island are youth who will also bring their families with them. These families are certain to fit in the demographic of the park. This was also previously stated.

You countered that a more consistent attraction would be a park with Hiking/Biking trails. You were right. These already exist on the island. It just goes to illustrate the lack of attendance and lack of publicity that these wonderful amenities are pretty much unknown to the general public. They are also evidently not a large enough draw to significantly boost attendance. Walking and biking trails are available elsewhere and give little reason to make a trip over to the island.

You also stated that a skatepark is for the skaters, period. We have again countered that this was not the case. Whether it's from the skater's family or curious spectators, a skatepark will draw people other than skaters to the island. We have also stated that a skatepark was not the only improvement we wanted to see on the island. We want to see other attractions that will turn Mud Island into a family getaway for the day and offer something for
everyone from 2 to 82 and beyond. Check my previous posts for some examples.

We have also addressed the issues of location, flooding and feasibility. If there are further issues please let me know. I know not everyone will agree with the reasons and explanations given for each issue and that is fine. Others may have had similar queries which these posts have satisfied. For that I thank all of you who have taken part in this discussion.

3:39 PM  
Anonymous Mary said...

To Reuben: "But how easy is it to bring the suburban crowd to downtown Memphis?"

Pretty easy. I live in Millington and when SPOM was in Cordova people made the drive all the time. I know they would drive downtown to skate a world class skatepark often. I have no doubt that skaters from Bartlett, Cordova, etc will make the drive to use a skatepark.

Also I'm not a skater, but I support the skatepark idea. I think skating is fun to watch and would go myself just to watch skaters. The skatepark will most definitely get more people on Mud Island, which as far as I know is the main idea behind this. With the skatepark and a large playground, a "splash park", and longer hours, etc. there will be more reasons for entire families to go to Mud Island and actually DO something. That is the key... no one wants to go to Mud Island and just stand around staring at a big grassy field or learn about river history. Creating a recreational space where kids, adults, and families can spend time outdoors moving and playing will help our city transform itself. It will push us forward with with national recognition of an excellent skatepark and will promote physical activity which our (most obese) city desperately needs.

3:42 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thanks for your concern. You raise good questions for the passionate Skatepark supporters, and I am really impressed that you are even willing to dialogue with them.

As for myself, my question is why not have a world class skatepark in that section of land on Mud Island?

I have yet to see half the passion and commitment from any of the other constituents with alternative ideas.

Skatepark supporters may sound like their vision ultimately comes down to getting what they want. But from what I understand, the vision goes so much deeper than that.

They want the flourishing of MudIsland and of downtown Memphis. They want kids interacting together from all backgrounds. They want the racial, economic, and neighborhood barriers that keep these kids apart to be broken down. Again, from what I understand, they passionately believe that skating can do that.

The skatelifers have a unique vision that I have been very impressed with.

3:52 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

P.S. I'll be there dreaming with the skaters tonight. I hope everyone else can make it too.

3:53 PM  
Blogger Eric Mathews said...

Bring your #Sk8Mud T-Shirt

3:55 PM  
Blogger Trisha said...

I am not a skater and I am WHOLLY in support of this skate park.

I'm certainly not going to drive my kids all the way to Mud Island, drop them at the skatepark, and then head back out of downtown to do my weekend errands.Why would you just drop off your kids? The skatepark is not a babysitter. The goal is for EVERYONE to have something to do on Mud Island. Maybe your kids are old enough to be on their own for a bit at the skatepark... if so, you could let them skate there, and you will have cafes, stores, etc to go to while they skate. That's the goal, for all Memphians to have a place to go.

This is a positive, dynamic step for Memphis. I was born here and unlike most people in my age group (30s) I have no desire to leave. I want to raise a kid here. I am tired of people putting Memphis down and doing nothing to change it for the better.

4:07 PM  
Blogger Kristopher said...

Yes, as many have already said, please come out and share your voice for whatever you want on Mud Island. We are lucky to have this opportunity to help shape the future of Mud Island and Memphis.

Meeting starts @ 5:45pm at the Memphis Botanic Gardens 750 Cherry Rd. (Near Audubon park).

4:16 PM  
Blogger Eric Mathews said...

Mark, well said -- From what have heard of the vision articulated by the Skate Life crew, it is something that I can buy into -- and runs much deeper than just having a facility in Memphis. Again, I'm not a skater.

4:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A skatepark does provide recreation, for the skaters. Even if the idea that a bunch of others will come and watch, if the goal is to encourage recreation for the greatest number, a skate park isn't the ticket. A well manicured, tree lined and wide jogging, walking, etc. trail, with a cafe thrown in for good measure perhaps, is the ticket. The recreation arguent is not your strongest. And the recreation argument is also not an argument for the skate park's being on the Island. That is the fundamental question you folks haven't answered - why there? Why not instead aim for a use that is 1) visually pleasing (skate park v trees??) 2) is welcoming to all (sorry guys a skate park is not welcoming to all, whether you think it should be or not) and 3) is consistent with the rest of the island and 4) is consistent, btw, with the other things the city is doing. Shelby farms, the greenline. Add Mud Island in and you could eventually jog or bike from downtown memphis on the island to Shelby Farms. Again, I am not saying no skate park, but I have not seen the case for it being on the island, other than that you want it there because it will be very visible. All I know is I always see older tourists at the end of beale looking over at the island and I feel prety confident that the vast majority would never approach mud island if what they saw awaiting them was a skate park. Anyway, good luck. If I can make the meeting Thursday, I will be there. I will be the, how did he put it, the "powerful and secretive cabal of NIMBY geezers."

4:49 PM  
Blogger Kristopher said...

Anonymous, I believe we may just have to agree to disagree.

I have already stated that there are currently walking, biking, running trails in the Mud Island River Park. We even advocate the improvement of these. So far they have done nothing to improve attendance.

Skatepark or trees? What trees? That spot has sat bare for the past 20 odd years. If you are willing to wait the five or six years it would take to grow trees on that part of the island then you have more patience than any of us.

I have been to a great number of skateparks all over this country. I have yet to encounter any non-skater who said that a particular skatepark was unwelcoming. In fact, in my experience, the reverse has been true.

It is consistent with what the city and county are doing with regards to the greenway and projects like it. A skatepark promotes healthy outdoor activity and improves the quality of life just like Greenways and jogging trails. These ideas compliment each other and are in no way mutually exclusive. Look at the cities with the highest quality of life and you will find those have the highest number of skateparks along with Greenways, hiking trails and bike lanes.

Recreation is our strongest argument because it is a recreational experience that you cannot find elsewhere. Hiking/biking trails, once again, are already found in the River Park and elsewhere in the city and do not offer the draw that a large, world class skatepark will offer. This kind of park is like a Disneyland compared to the neighborhood park's local playground role.

We have thoroughly explained why we are for a park on the island and we have offered reasons that go far beyond visibility. We have taken time to read your comments and have offered specific answers based on them. Yet your posts do not seem to address these. Perhaps they are to verbose and some of the content is getting lost in the reading. I would certainly be glad to shorten them or even sort out any issues face to face.

5:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kristopher, I appreciate the comments but with due respect the fact that you attempted to address my questions does not mean that you answered them and my not accepting or agreeing with your answers does not mean that "to [sic] verbose and some of the content is getting lost in the reading." I read all day brother, verbose things too, so I assure you that my reading comp isn't the problem. As an aside, insulting the intelligence of your opponent, even doing it nicely, isn't going to win you many arguments. Yes, you attempted to address my questions, but in my view your answers were lacking. Making assertions is not argument. Telling me that not only the visibility, but the "unique location" is the answer for why it must be on the island really does not cut it. Those are basically 2 sides of the same coin. You are changing your recreation argument and the new one isn't all that strong either. Ok, its a new recreational idea. So why on the island? It won't encourage everyone to recreate, just skaters. Ok, you outnumber baseball players (another straw man you erected earlier), so why on the island? What is your answer to people who say that if there is a skate park there they will never go there? I guarantee you that if there was a jogging trail circling the island it would get used by young and old, tourists, etc year round and would be a welcoming site. A cafe or restaurant, as some have asked for, would be used by all and could be an attractive use. A skate park will be great for some but certainly not for all. In this public space, all should be the goal.

5:54 PM  
Anonymous sherman said...

When we were working on raising money for the Stax Museum, I met with a suburban banker--much like Skatelife meets with people behind the scenes all the time. He insisted we should build the Stax Museum not on its original site, but on Beale St. where "the people were." This was inconsistent with our vision for building a monument to the greatest soul record label on its original site.

The reason why you would build a skatepark on the 100 year empty spot at the end of mud island is it would be a major worldwide attraction for skaters from all over the world to "skate on the Mississippi." This would be the only spot on the largest river in the U.S. to skate. It would be a major visitor draw to Memphis & Mud Island, unlike the current situation. Memphis & regional skaters would also be able to enjoy this amenity in droves.

There is no reason why a cafe or snack bar cannot work there. In fact, I would love to be able to grab a bite to eat, a coffee or beer, and watch the skaters there. It will be an awesome experience for those who want to sit on the floating dock & watch from Beale St. too.

Joggers can currently use that space. So can walkers. Very few do.

6:12 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

Anonymous, you keep asking, "Why on Mud Island?"

The answer: because the city has asked the public, "What should we do with Mud Island?"

The Skatelife community has provided a well-researched, thoughtful and (in my and many, many others' opinions) excellent answer.

I want to add my voice to the group of "supporters but not skaters". I don't skate, never have, but have lived in California and saw the tremendous contribution these public spaces made to the community. Putting a relatively inexpensive, world class skate park on Mud Island is a no-brainer. We need to do it.

I attended the meeting at the Botanical Gardens tonight with many others. Though the initial proposals did indeed have the skate park stuffed under the I-40 bridge, the powers that be seemed very receptive to the overwhelming opinion to locate it on the opposite (highly visible) end of the park.

The process was very interactive and provided a diverse, team-based forum for brainstorming various uses of Mud Island, of which the skate park was only one component.

Anonymous, given the timestamp of your last comment, it appears you chose not to make your voice heard at the meeting tonight. That's unfortunate, because -- although your opinion about the skate park is clearly in the minority -- there are lots of ideas to contribute for the best use of Mud Island. River walks, cafes, retail space, aquarium, amusement rides and many other ideas were discussed tonight. I'm afraid you missed a valuable opportunity to contribute.

Earlier, Tricia said, "I am tired of people putting Memphis down and doing nothing to change it for the better." -- amen, sister!

9:01 PM  
Blogger Amie said...

Many people have stated the case for a skate park on mud island, so I will not re-state their case. I will, however, add my support as a non-skater, one who does not even have kids. I am a photographer though, and love to photograph all sorts of activities, skateboarding included.

The thing that strikes me the most is the simple idea that nothing draws a crowd like a crowd. Currently people do not use Mud Island despite the great river walk, the existing trails, views of River, etc. so in my humble opinion, why would anyone object to having a skate park at one end of the island, particularly when it would draw people in who would then use other aspects of the island?

I did attend the Botanic Gardens meeting tonight, and every skater there was eager to have ALL sorts of activities on the island IN ADDITION to the skate park. It isn't as though they are trying to monopolize the island. They want art, music, other sports, family activities, food and drinks just as everyone else does, but the difference is they have come up with something that is UNIQUE and would be a HUGE draw, which would then benefit everyone. I have yet to hear another suggestion that has been as well-thought out or persuasive in regards to what would benefit the most number of people. The fact is that this skate park crosses age, race and gender boundaries and would encourage other activities, as well. I guess I just don't understand why anyone would object to it when there does not seem to be an alternative anywhere near as exciting.

11:50 PM  
Blogger jkamra12 said...

we need something like Rocketown in nashville...

8:21 AM  
Blogger Kristopher said...

Wow, 40 posts. This article has generated quite a bit of buzz. I wonder if this makes for some kind of record for The Gates of Memphis?

Thank you everyone for your posts.

It was not my intent to "insult your intelligence". I get wordy enough in some of these post that I lose my train of thought between one end and the other. However if that is how you take it, then maybe you tend to be a little too thin skinned for rational discourse in a public forum.

I originally did not see this as a problem as you have liberally scattered inflammatory remarks throughout your previous posts. For example "It is possibly the worst idea for the island that has been floated, except for the pie in the sky amusement park idea from a few years back." or "You will lose this fight and there is nothing you can do about it. Heck, I might show up this week now just to make sure." Surely statements like this are also no way to win an argument. Also as an aside, I am not your brother so do not condescend to me by calling me so.

In your last post you asked "What is your answer to people who say that if there is a skate park there they will never go there?" Honestly, this has never come up. We have been very public with our intent and so far not one person has expressed this concern. I believe if a person is that offended by something like a skatepark, then they are also going to the same kind of person who would not go anywhere near downtown in the first place. This argument does not hold any water at all.

You have accused me of "erecting straw men" when I have stated the facts about the numbers of skateboarders. Our numbers come from an independent study performed by the Sporting Goods Manufactures of America and can be found as part of our initial report. Copies of this report are available upon request. I would be more than happy to email you a copy. You can also view another report where it is shown that skateboarders have some of the highest number of outings per participant in outdoor activities. That report can be found here:

You have tried to state that the unique location and visibility are two sides of the same coin. This is not true. The unique location has to do with having a world class skatepark on an island in the largest and most historic river in North America. Visibility is a separate benefit. The fact that a perfect area has long sat barren and unused and happens to be highly visible just fits into the plan.

As to our other reason of opportunity, you have not bothered to address this issue. The Riverfront Development asked the people of Memphis what they want to see on the island. There have been an overwhelming number of us that have stated we want to see a skatepark on the island. The park would be a huge draw for the island. It would help overcome the accessibility issue by virtue of it's uniqueness and the fact that major skateparks are treated as destinations like ski resorts where limited access is not seen as much of a detriment.

You have repeatedly stated that jogging/biking/walking trails would be a better plan for the island. Yet they already exists in the park and have proven not to be a drawing force to the island. We have also already stated that we are for improving these as well. A skatepark on the island does not exclude anything else. We can have our skatepark and you can have your trails and they will benefit and compliment each other.

You also stated a cafe as another option. Cafes were available on the island but have closed due to lack of support. We also advocate reopening or installing new cafes in this revamp. Once again, we need not sacrifice anything to have a skatepark on the island.

We have shown that a skatepark not only benefits the large number of heretofore ignored skateboarders, but indeed provides a key to the continued success of the whole island. It can do this by drawing in families from not just the surrounding area but the nation. These families will include non-skaters who will find fun in the other attractions that we are also advocating. The high repeat outing factor of skateboarding also insures many repeat visits. There is also the spectator attraction factor involved with a skatepark of this caliber. Many people will head on to the island just to see what is going on.

For it's success, Mud Island needs to become a place where people are actively engaged and not just passively witnessing. A skatepark is an inexpensive, low maintenance hugely popular draw for just such place. Couple this with the fact that you do not need to sacrifice anything to have it on the island and it becomes a no-brainer.

Now we have listed many specific and valid reasons as to why we want a park on the island. At this point I would like to here any equally valid and specific points you may have as to why it shouldn't be there.

10:54 AM  
Blogger Ben said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12:48 PM  
Anonymous elaine said...

Mud Island needs something that will get people excited enough to be motivated to come on over. Judging from the turnout at the planning meetings, a skate park is the perfect answer. Lots of people made the effort to be there (some like me with kids in tow) specifically to express their support for a skate park. I didn't meet a single person who was jumping with joy over the idea of more restaurants and shopping.

I don't give a rip about basketball, but I still support the Tigers and the Grizzlies because they are good for our city. Anything that benefits the city benefits all of us.

12:50 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

I support the Skate Park and I am not a skater.

I don't have any kids that skate (yet) and I don't anticipate attempting to skate anytime soon.

So why am I supporting this venture?

Because I have had my eyes opened to the stunning, near-unbelievable fact that people in this sad sack city actually *care* about something.

Memphis is a city with a terminal case of low self-esteem. Oh how we love to complain! Wahh, the crime is terrible! Wahh, racial tension! Wahh, our Coach abandoned us! If there is one thing Memphis excels at it is Monday morning quarterbacking. We will gripe and complain while never getting our hands dirty.

But not the skaters.

I’ve been to the Mud Island meetings. Two of them, actually. And I have seen a group of people willing to participate in “the system” ™. And it may stun you to realize that these people are not whatever stereotype you managed to cobble together in you mind. They are kids, parents, working adults, black and white.

They represent [brace yourselves] diversity. Yes, I know, it’s hard to believe! In a city where the ground is supposedly salted with racial hatred, the skaters are about as varied an amalgamation as you will meet.

Detractors will cry “the only reason these skaters are involved is because they want something!”

And they are right.

The skaters are, to a degree, operating with their own interests in mind. They do want something: they want Mud Island to become an integral and vital part of the city. They want it become a destination. They want people from around the worlds (yes, including skaters, professional and otherwise) to make it a “must see” hot spot.

The skaters I’ve spoken with are fully aware that the proposed skate park will only take up a small portion of the Mud Island Park (a fact that a lot of opponents seem to have trouble grasping). The Skaters are there, offering other ideas, from family friendly ventures to more local-oriented (less corporate) retail and restaurant ventures. They have ideas. They’re rolling up their sleeves and they are participating.

Finally, I know critics will want to deride this post by picking apart positive buzzwords like “hope” and “change”. Feel free. I know it’s easy to tear apart wide-eyed optimism, I’ve done it for years. I’ve griped. I’ve complained. I’ve sat on the sidelines offering people reasons why their ventures would fail.

And look how productive that has been.

I’m going to try something different now. I’m going to take something of a leap of faith and actually try to fathom…not a perfect Memphis, just a better one.


1:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a difference between being relentlessly negative and simply disagreeing with a bad idea, no matter how popular. That a large number of people want a skate park is irrelevant; a large number of people thing American Idol is the best show on TV and that John Grisham novels are literature. The question is what is the highest and best use for that portion of Mud Island and passion and numbers are great but they aren't an answer to the question. BTW, someone mentioned that a feasibility study had been done. Posted anywhere?

2:29 PM  
Blogger Trisha said...

That a large number of people want a skate park is irrelevant; a large number of people thing American Idol is the best show on TV and that John Grisham novels are literature. So... the fact that a large people want this means nothing? So who decides what is best for this city if the citizens do not? You'd rather leave it to the local government?

Numerous posts here have explained the answer, but you don't like the answer. So you keep asking for another one that suits you.

Anon, what is YOUR suggestion for Mud Island if you believe a skate park (and, once again, it is not a skate park and skate park only being proposed) is not going to work? What's your idea?

Kristopher offered to email you a feasibility study. If you would step out of your anonymous veil and post your email address, you'd have the study to peruse on your own.

Methinks you just like to argue for the sake of arguing, and I don't see how that will improve Mud Island or this city as a whole.

2:40 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

A feasibility study has been made (written?). I'm sure Kris or one of the other Skatelife Memphis people would be happy to provide you with a link or maybe even a hardcopy.

You inquired the question is what is the highest and best use for that portion of Mud Island?You seem awfully certain that a skatepark is not the best use for the park yet have yet to counter any of the facts brought up by other posters.

When you say "it won't work" (an assertion made several times over) you come off a parent saying "because I said so!"

Please understand that I do not mean this as an insult, merely a (lame) analogy.

Other posters have provided well thought out reasons and facts for the skate parks existence. Furthermore, they have exclaimed several times over that the proposed Skate Park would *NOT* devour the existing structure.

But you still maintain that it won't work. Without offering any reason why. Without offering any alternative and without (by your own admission) attending any community meetings.

Again, I want to firmly state these words are not intended agitate, merely encourage debate. I hope Kris or one of the other guys can provide you with a link to the fesability study. These aren't a bunch of slack-jawed teenagers looking to destroy a beautiful park. They've done their homework.

For the record, as a means of extending an olive branch of civil discourse, I have to admit that I agree with your sentiments regarding American Idol and John Grisham.

2:52 PM  
Blogger Randal Cooper said...

Alas, the more often he posts, the more I'm convinced that Anonymous is really Old Man Witherspoon, who aims to keep the kids off of Mud Island by any means possible until he can figure out a way to get to Hernando Desoto's secret buried treasure. Especially considering that his "alternative proposals" (trails, restaurants) already exist on Mud Island, and we have all seen precisely how much additional use the island gets because of these amenities.

3:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


"Highest and best use" is snobbery in the highest (and worst) form, especially as you insult the democratic process by saying the will of the people doesn't matter in issues of public policy and property. Your choice of language is usually code for "I don't want *those* people on my lawn" and I dare you to say anything that proves you mean anything else.

3:01 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

Ok, wait.

I was wrong.

Wrong about this whole Skate Park thing.

Here is what we (we, being Mud Island) needs - a P.F. Changs. Right smack dab in the middle of the park.

And next to it? A Car dealership! I don't care which company - just make 'em big and LOUD (preferably something that takes a lot gas, no sissy hybrids)!

We could dot the island with a few Burger Kings, you know, for the people who aren't classy enough for P.F. Changs (they got GIANT freakin' stone horses)!!

And finally, a big stonkin' boat dock. Because all of those poor, poor business men *need* a place to park those gigantic boats. [Sidenote: Have you seen the ratio of docks to big-ass boats?! It'd bring a tear to a glass eye!!]

Throw in a few giant crosses (gotta' one up 'Fort Gawd') and maybe a Washington Monument with a crown of thorns (to compliment 'the Statue of Liberation') and by golly - we'd have ourselves a major attraction! Yee-Haw!

3:03 PM  
Blogger Kristopher said...

For anyone who wants a copy of our initial report, please email me @ and I'll be happy to provide you with a copy.

The matter of what is the highest and best use for this piece of land has never been the question. The question presented to the people of Memphis was "What do you, the people of Memphis, want to see in the Mud Island River Park?" Those of us that have responded have said that we would like to see a skatepark along with a host of other amenities to transform the park into the success it should have been.

3:07 PM  
Blogger Ben said...


Dear Kris,
Allow me to drop a little math on you "highest + best use = P.F. Changs"

Stone horses my friend, stone-freakin'-horses!

Get a hair cut hippy!

3:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not saying it won't work. I have no idea if it will or not, and that isn't the point. The issue is what is the best use for the island. While I believe that a skate park is a great idea for somewhere, that somewhere shouldn't be Mud Island, for all the reasons I stated a few days ago when we started this. And someone wants me to post my email address? Are you nuts? I assumed the study would be online somewhere or could otherwise be made generally available. If it isn't so be it. But I'd just assume avoid the 150 emails from pro skate park folks. Look, fundamentally it comes down to this. What do I want tourists to see when they peer over to the Island? What do I want to see when I peer over to the island? What do I think would be an attractive use for the most people and that would be consistent with what is there and which would reflect well on the city from a design aspect as well as from the aspect of attracting young professionals to live here. According to some information I just looked at, there are roughly 37.8 million people in this country who run for exercise, 11.5 million who run 100 days a year. There are, apparently, 18.5 million skaters worldwide, 85% of which are under 18, 74% of which were male. So if I am choosing a recreational outlet that will attract the most people, I am choosing a jogging trial over a skate park any day. It will tie in well with the other end of the island, which is used a good bit, btw, would be attactive, would attract tourists, etc. It would tie into the area's overall efforts with the greenway and S. farms. And what is "greener"? A well appointed running trail or a massive collection of concrete bowls?

3:10 PM  
Blogger Randal Cooper said...

I dunno, Anonymous, the idea of hopping in my car and driving twenty miles to go running seems to defeat the purpose, especially when you consider that I've got an entire world to run in that starts just outside my door--as does everyone else.

A running trail might be of benefit to downtown and Mud Island residents, admittedly, but, as I stated before, one already exists on the island. It is the textbook example of "limited appeal."

3:17 PM  
Blogger Ben said...


I can see you are clearly not in *my* camp. If you have a little spare time, I would like to direct you to

There you will see that a P.F.Changs appeals to all manner of people. They even cater to vegetarians (see the 'Buddha's Feast' option). Their dinner menu is available for .pdf download on the site. Surely there is something on there for everyone!

Stone horses.

3:17 PM  
Anonymous sherman said...

What do I want tourists to see when they peer over to the Island? What do I want to see when I peer over to the island?

Skater Hater!

How about if we buy you some of those late night eye-covers my granny used to wear at night so you don't have to see any skaters when you look at Mud Island? Hee-Haw!

Thanks for finally showing your cards!

3:25 PM  
Blogger Trisha said...

But I'd just assume avoid the 150 emails from pro skate park folks.Yep, that pretty much says it all.

That aside, a jogging trail? There are already jogging trails, and people can jog along Harbor Town's riverfront. If a jogger wants a trail, they have numerous places in the city to go. If you skate, you have no place in this city to go.

The "greener" concept was discussed at last night's meeting. It was agreed that we'd like to see trees and grassy areas. Maybe even a garden. I don't know of anyone, skaters included, who would want to totally pave the island.

3:26 PM  
Blogger Kristopher said...

Anon. You do not have to have to post your email. I have posted mine so you may contact me privately. I have no reason nor inclination to flood anyone's spam filters.

So I guess the highest and best use of that land for twenty years has been to hold up some grass then?

The argument for jogging trails has already proved groundless. The trails that are there now see little to no use, so you believe we can change that by looping them around a bare and shadeless area at the south tip of the island? While a great deal of people do Jog, bike and exercise, they are not willing to cross over to the island to do so. The numbers mean nothing if the people won't go there in the first place.

3:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ben - I would only agree with the PF Changs idea if it will have a large TV showing American Idol 24/7, because what the most people love must be the best. And to the guy who called me Old Man Witherspoon - very close my friend very close. to the person who said a running trail is an example of limited appeal - if running draws more participants than skating, and running trials are of limited appeal to you, what does that make a skate park?
And whats the big deal with my being anonymous? Someone calls themselves "gates of memphis" or "zippy the giver" and all is well. I don't give myself a nickname and I'm a coward? I'm sorry for disagreeing with you whipersnappers, but I am really hoping not for a PF Changs, but a Perkins. 1) I need that early bird special and 2) chinese makes me gassy.

3:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh and Sherman - lighten up Francis.

3:33 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3:43 PM  
Blogger Randal Cooper said...


While I applaud your determination, I think you know the already know why providing runners with an additional resource for which there is already a near-infinite supply amounts to "limited appeal."

I don't necessarily fault you for pretending you don't understand where you've made your math error, but don't assume that I'll keep playing along.

3:45 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

On a serious note (aside from a delicious two fro 39.95 deal going on *now* at -you guessed it- P.F. Changs) you state...

"a large number of people want a skate park is irrelevant; a large number of people thing American Idol is the best show on TV and that John Grisham novels are literature."

and then later you cite...

"there are roughly 37.8 million people in this country who run for exercise, 11.5 million who run 100 days a year"

So, maybe I'm confused - do numbers matter or not? It seems when being used to butress your argument they are relevant.

Furthermore, does that large number of runners enjoy American Idol and John Grisham novels."

And yes, I *am* a bitter ol' crank that loves to argue. ;)

3:46 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

Early bird specials for all!!

3:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ben don't admit to being old. Someone - if you disagree with them - will call you Old Man Witherspoon. But, ya bitter old crank, what I meant was that the fact that a majority of people that show up to meetings are for thus and so does not make thus and so necessarily the best option. It just means they showed up. But I think their arguing that demographically a skate park is the ticket is entirely appropriate. But if they are going to make that argument, its fair to argue hey runners are more plentiful, attract a wider range of ages and attract more women than does skating. And that also has the benefit of being true. Now the counter that there already is a trail on the other side that isn't used much is a decent comeback but I don't think its all that true. I think lots of folks run over there. And a trail on the hardest part of the island to get to is different from a trail on the more visible side, particularly if access is increased, which everyone seems to be in favor of just about. I don't run on the trail that exists at lunch (when I run) because I have to go through concrete hell to get there, and I have a limited supply of time. Now if I and others, including by the way tourists, could access the island on or near the southern tip and follow a trail around the entire island or most of it, I think that would be an entirely different situation. Look, you guys want to skate, I want to run and we both think our ideas would be best overall and thats what makes the world go round. I am sorry to have disagreed with you but have enjoyed it (mostly). May the best man (in my case) and boys (in your cases) win. (kidding, please don't freak out now Kristopher and other touchy folks). And I wasn't there last night because it was Bingo Night

4:02 PM  
Anonymous Mary said...

Anon - Why do you keep pushing for a jogging trail? There are already paths on the island that are not well used. Besides, why would someone cross over to Mud Island when they can already walk/run/lay in grass at Tom Lee Park? Besides, why hate on the skaters when they are also advocating jogging trails in addition to the skatepark? This should be about including multiple ideas that will draw people with different and diverse recreational interests and to the island. By leaving it how it is or just enhancing it with more jogging trails but doing nothing else we would abandon Mud Island to continue to be unused. With a skatepark and some of the other ideas Mud Island could become a really unique area that Memphis can be proud of. The skaters have passion and a lot of support from people who aren't skaters (like me). I think anything in Memphis that can draw out that kind of passion and will help make the city better should be supported. I understand you don't think a skatepark would be the best use, but from what I hear you aren't offering a better solution to draw people together and actually get people to use Mud Island, which is the whole point of this.

4:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am offering what you think is not a better solution, true. But I am offering an alternative that I am not alone in thinking would be a good idea. And I am not "hating on" anyone, and not only because that phrase is agrammatical train wreck. I am disagreeing with you. I am not sure why I can't do the latter without being accused of the former. I am sure all of you are wonderful people (except that Kristopher fellow)(kidding again).

4:13 PM  
Blogger Kristopher said...


Would you drive an hour and a half just to jog somewhere new? Just how different is one jogging trail from another? How much visual interest does the act of running generate?

Skateboarders will and currently do drive (and ride with their families) long hours to go to skateparks. Each skatepark is a unique structure offering it's own experience. Skateboarding (and BMX and Rollerblading) have an immense spectator appeal that attracts crowds and is covered in several widely televised events. There are thousands of videos and films dedicated just to the act of skateboarding. What was the last jogging video you watched?

The bottom line is that while jogging has greater numbers, jogging trails have not been an effective draw for participants or spectators. Proof exists in the unused trails already on the park grounds. Skateboarding has been proven to be a huge participant and spectator draw. This proof exists in the demos which have been held here, park openings across the nation, and the thousands who attend and the millions who tune in to events like the X-Games or the Dew Tour.

Your arguments flip flop between discounting numbers (i.e. when it comes to the number of those who are in favor of a skatepark) to parading around your own numbers (i.e. when it comes to the number of joggers vs. the number of skateboarders). Which is it? Do numbers matter or don't they?

Either way it just comes down to what the people want and so far they have wanted a skatepark. While I am skating at the skatepark, I hope I will see you using the improved jogging trails we are also asking for. That way we can both be healthy and happy.

4:14 PM  
Anonymous Mary said...

Haha, I am sorry I used slang. Of course internet disagreements should always be grammatically proper. I would venture to say, "My bad," but that probably would not sit well with you either. :)

I don't think your solution is worse. It is a great idea to have improved jogging trails on the island. I also think it is part of the overall vision most of the skatepark supporters have. It isn't one or the other for Mud Island, but both.

4:28 PM  
Blogger Kristopher said...

Well Anon,

You have presented your disagreement here but you failed to do so where it would matter the most, at the public meetings. These meetings are open to everyone and are being held just for the purpose of expressing opinions just like these. The next meeting is tomorrow, on Mud Island at 5:45pm.

Just to echo a point, there is room on the island for all sorts of improvements. Running trails, reopened and new cafes, improved landscaping and yes, a skatepark. There is room for all of us and none of us need to be left out.

4:32 PM  
Blogger Mark said...


Lets not be too hard on Anonymous. We should thank whoever this person is for sparking all this interesting discussion.

Anonymous, you are really starting to grow on me. I'm surprised you are still in on this debate. Thanks for inciting all these great responses.

As for the running trails: I was at the meeting last night, and though I cannot speak for all the skatepark supporters, those of us at my table were in fact in favor of such trails.

We suggested that the Memphis Greenline be connected from the northern tip of the island all the way to the southern prow, and then adding another walking bridge to connect the southern tip back to downtown.

What an asset it would be, I think, to have the Memphis Greenline run all the way down there: from the suburbs all the way to the south end of Mud Island.

And do contact Skatelife Memphis via their Web site to try to get a copy of the study (even if it means giving giving them an email address). Aaron Shafer and the others are very nice people.

By the way, this feasibility study for a skatepark on MudIsland, which cost over 15k, was funded by the Hyde Foundation a few years ago. The Hyde foundation approached a group of young professionals from St. Jude and elsewhere, who were not native Memphians, and asked them, "How can we attract more families and young professionals to Memphis?"

Critics may say that was a waste of money, but like many of the skatepark supporters believe, a world class skatepark would be an attractive, national asset to downtown Memphis, and for this reason, the Hyde foundation took the idea seriously.

P.S. For those of you who know all the whole story behind the feasibility study, sorry if I have some of my details wrong. Please correct them or add to them if I did.

See you all Thursday night at Mud Island for the second Phase 2 meeting!

4:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My bad is ok. Say it all the time. Just don't use disrespect as a verb. That drives me and all the other people at the old folks home crazy.
Look - do I think that a jogging trail will pull in tons of tourists who would otherwise not be here? No. Do I think it would be more visually pleasing, more consistent with the remainder of the island, and would be more enticing to tourists who do come here than a skate park? Yes.
Last try on the numbers thing - that 100000 people come to a meeting to advocate a bad idea does not mean that bad idea should win. If 1 person shows up and cites numbers that more people do x than y and therefore a thing that attracts people that do x will be better than a thing that attracts people that do y, that does matter and is a fine argument. My only point is that everyone touts how many folks you all have brought out to the meetings as proof in and of itself that a skate park should win. I don't think that's how this should or is going to work.

4:36 PM  
Anonymous Jonathan McCarver said...

At the meeting I (who am an actual skater) and everyone at my table (mostly skaters and one bmx guy) all laid out on planning maps a design that had both a skatepark at the sounthern tip and a pedestrian bridge from beale to the island. That bridge connected to the greenline and took walkers, runners bikers and even skaters if they feel like going - all the way to the existing trails on the other end of the island.

We also advocated adding more trail area in the northmost region considered for development and placing both permanent and rotating artwork along these new pathways.

Once you walked past the skatepark there was a nice playground and a "splash park" followed by light local retail before returning to a fully natural look.

All of this was very well recieved by the planning committee and the people in the group were the same young professionals that someone talked about attracting to the city.

We did it. Everything was there all at once with no problems. If someone is to prejudiced to jog near kids that like to wear beanie caps and listen to punk music then I don't think it's up to the city to address that issue.

4:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"My only point is that everyone touts how many folks you all have brought out to the meetings as proof in and of itself that a skate park should win. I don't think that's how this should or is going to work."

So in matters of public policy or property, you don't think the will of the taxpayer should win out? Seriously? No matter how you phrase that it still sounds like you don't think the public should have the deciding say... and I know you couldn't seriously be advocating shutting out or discounting the voice of the public, could you?

If only 30 percent of the population shows up for the next election, who do you think should decide for the will of the remaining 70%? The rich? Those already in power? You?

4:45 PM  
Blogger Randal Cooper said...


If argument-by-popularity is a fallacy, the converse of that is even more fallacious. I think everyone here understands that you think a skatepark on Mud Island is a bad idea. Because you can't provide a single substantive reason that it's a bad idea, I'm pretty sure we all assume that it's because a skater once killed your dog or something.

Please, enlighten me. Why, precisely, is a skatepark a bad idea? Because it won't bring people to Mud Island? Because it will, but not the people you like? Because you're a property developer or owner and a skate park is not in line with your vision for the island?

Baseless blustering that a skatepark is a bad idea for two days now makes me wonder what your actual agenda is, and furthermore makes me suspicious that there's a profit motive involved.

5:00 PM  
Blogger Naomi Van Tol said...

I just read every word of this monumental and delightfully civil comment thread, and I think it's entirely fair and reasonable to assume that Anonymous is, in fact, "a powerful and secretive cabal of NIMBY geezers."

And that a skater "once killed his [their?] dog or something."

6:31 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

"My only point is that everyone touts how many folks you all have brought out to the meetings as proof in and of itself that a skate park should win. I don't think that's how this should or is going to work."

Could you please tell me- how then should it work? Should we all go home and let them shelve this public process because it was unfairly biased by a group of people?

I am honestly very curious to know how you would go about this whole process in a fairer manner.

How can we all, including yourself, together make make this a successful outcome for our city?

7:53 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

Yes, this notion that somehow the Skatelife community is causing trouble or doing something wrong by rallying support for a great idea seems very suspicious to me.

If there was another prevailing proposal with which the skatepark was competing, we could assume that was Anonymous's agenda -- get the other idea built. But there aren't any competing proposals. Jogging trails, green space, cafes, riverwalk -- all of these are compatible with and complimented by the skatepark.

10:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For your information, the cabal of which I am a part has never has a dog. I do not hate skaters and am not prejudiced against them in the slightest. For example, I can't wait for the new Green Day. To say that I have not offered another proposal or have been so negative is just wrong. You just disagree with me. I just want to push my walker down to mud island and see scantly clad women in jogging clothes. Is this so wrong?

10:27 AM  
Anonymous Jennifer O. said...

Here's a question for the skate park proponents:
If the Cordova skate park, which was well-loved by parents, kids, etc., closed b/c the owner could no longer afford the liability insurance and property rent, why didn't the skaters, their families, etc. pay more $$ to the owner for use of the park so it would be saved? Don't be cheap then complain when you're left with nothing. My taxes are not for the benefit of your hobby. If you want another skate park so bad, pay for it yourselves and don't force it on the taxpayers on Memphis.

1:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Jennifer O. --

What makes you think the young professionals spearheading this movement and the parents of the legions of even younger skaters aren't also tax payers?

I'm sure they don't want their tax money spent on lots of the crap our money gets wasted on.

But why shouldn't they stand up and support something that is in their (and the city's) best interest when offered the chance? That's what people do in a democracy.

Don't want the skate park? You're 100% entitled to that opinion. But I hope you show up and voice your opinion where it counts.

1:33 PM  
Blogger gatesofmemphis said...

Jennifer O., I would venture that everybody on this thread, pro or con skatepark, is a taxpayer. Taxpaying is pretty standard.

1:39 PM  
Anonymous Jennifer O. said...

Interesting the neither of you addressed the fact that the skaters allowed a beloved park to be closed instead of fronting the $$ themselves. I take back the comment about paying taxes. Off the subject, I guess I see too many politicians & neighbors NOT paying taxes that I think its rampant in our city. My bad.
I'm all for a skate park, as in 1 big one for now. Why do we have to jump and build 2 big ones at the same time. We already have enough abandoned properties (Libertyland, Pyramid, several downtown highrise bldgs, fairgrounds, etc.) that I'm hesitant to support another venture that will, in no doubt, become old and forgotten just like all the other properties sitting unused. Let's start with the one that's already been approved and see what happens.

1:49 PM  
Blogger Kristopher said...

I don't play baseball, basketball, or soccer yet my tax dollars have paid for a great many of places dedicated to just these activities. So did yours. I didn't here you complain about those. When they close down a privately run gym, do you whine when they build an exercise trail at the local city park? We are already paying for a whole island park that nobody uses, what's the harm in using some of that money for something that will actually see use?

2:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kris - Old Man Witherspoon here. the "nobody uses it" line is untrue. Attendance is up in recent times, per the stats. Win your argument with the truth my brother (yes I know you are actually not my brother and no I am not trying to be condencending).

3:10 PM  
Blogger Kristopher said...

The financial situation of the skatepark was not made public till the decision to close the park was made. There was no chance to hold a fundraiser for this privately run venture. If anyone suggested to you to hold a fundraiser to save your business, would you do it or would you see this suggestion to be just as ridiculous as the rest of us do?

The park didn't close because not enough of us went. We went in throngs. The problem is scale. With the rising rent of the property, you just could not fit enough skaters in there to turn a profit. Still even though it did eventually close, it did far better in it's conditions than any other business could have dreamed of doing.

Take this scenario into account. For your new start-up, fledgling business you need a large space with high ceilings. This means warehouse space. Since you want parents to bring their children there, that means hard-to-find warehouse space in a good area of town. That can be had but it costs a lot. Okay now the only location you can find sits way back off the street, buried in a row of identical looking buildings, so you have zero street visibility or recognition. Now you need to lay out a large sum of money and labor to custom build your interior. This custom interior gets a lot of use and abuse so it needs constant upkeep so that adds you your already high overhead. You've just started out so you have no capital left for advertising. You have to rely on word of mouth. How many businesses would even start in those conditions let alone thrive for years?

Nobody opens a skatepark to get rich. It's opened because the owner sees the need and loves skateboarding.

Nobody has advocated for opening two big parks. We are advocating a big world class park on Mud Island to help make the island a big, world class draw. Even if it is the largest park in the nation, it is still way too small to accommodate all the skateboarders of Memphis, not to mention those that will travel here form all over the US. If it is to serve the role as our sole skatepark, then you will see severe overcrowding there. We need many smaller neighborhood parks to fill in the "local playground" role in cooperation with the large park's "Six Flags" role.

Memphis has a long way to go before we come close to providing enough area for it's skateboarding population. The city has seen fit to provide over forty baseball fields for a smaller segment of citizens. Why raise such a rukus over one, two, or even ten skateparks?

Anon, where is this data and do you care to share it with us? (Still waiting for that email from you requesting our info). Is this rise in attendance directly related to the jogging trails? If attendance is on the rise, then why are we doing these meetings?

You still have failed to point out ant basis for your objection other than some vague visual reference. What exactly do you see wrong with this project when it still includes everything you mentioned that you would do to improve the island?

3:21 PM  
Blogger Kristopher said...


The phrase "Nobody uses it" is obvious hyperbole and you know it. Where truth is concerned, attendance is enough of an issue to prompt a $400,000 land use study so I do not believe any rise in attendance has kept pace with the rise in population. Still, I would love to be proved wrong and that now, all of a sudden, Mud Island has bloomed into the success it should be.

3:32 PM  
Blogger Trisha said...

...its fair to argue hey runners are more plentiful, attract a wider range of ages and attract more women than does skating. Anon... seriously? A goal here is to attract more women? This skatepark is for ALL. As for women in skating, do the names Jen O'Brian, Carabeth Burnside, Lacey Baker, Elissa Steamer, and Marisa Del Santo sound familiar? No? They are all professional skaters with full fledged lady bits! Younger girls see them and want to skate too! I've seen females skating among the guys, and I've yet to hear of a female complain that the guys didn't accept her as one of their own.

If I ever have a daughter, I'd gladly get her into skating if that's what she wants (same for a son). The first time I watched my husband skate at the now-defunct private park, I was blown away as to how all of even the VERY young skaters (age 13 or younger) showed sportsmanship and respect to everyone else. The older skaters cheered for the younger ones, and vice versa. I've worked in the Memphis City Schools and I've seen some badly behaved kids... these kids (and adults) were some of the best behaved kids I'd ever seen. I remarked to my husband- then my fiance- that skating seemed like a great thing for kids.

My husband and his friends from back then didn't get into drugs and craziness. Why? Because their focus was on skating.

And while it is not skateboarding, are you aware there is a whole league of women skaters in this city? It's called Memphis Roller Derby. Those ladies can look as feminine as Scarlett O'Hara, but knock a grown man down.

"I can't wait for the next Green Day"? Ha. Again I say, HA. I didn't know that all people who skated were males barely out of their teens or avid readers of John Grisham and fans of American Idol.

My husband is a grown man in his thirties, works 40+ hours a week in an office, pays our bills, pays our taxes, mows our lawn. He has never watched an episode of American Idol, has never read Grisham to my knowledge (although he does love him some Tollkien!) and dislikes Green Day. Oh... and he skates. Imagine that!

There are people on this board, either skaters or skate supporters, who hold PhDs, Masters degrees, and/or are parents.

Just as you can't lump all joggers as one group-- there's joggers of every age and gender-- you cannot put all those who skate in one box either.

3:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Trish - Lighten up. I was kidding. Skaters are so literal.
And Kristopher - when I said attendance was up, thats because that's what the folks runnning the stakeholder meeting said several times. I also think I read it in the paper at some point. My folder full of handy-mud-island- stats-in-case-I-get-into-a-debate-with-grumpy-skaters-on a-message- board is in my other coat. And attendance being up doesn't mean the island is now a raging success and no one, certainly not me, has said otherwise. It means that attedance is up.

4:14 PM  
Blogger Kristopher said...

I too was at a stakeholder meeting in addition to the three public meetings and this nice little tidbit was never told at any of those.

I can inquire about it at tonight's meeting. That is the Meeting on Mud Island (just come over the auction street bridge, turn left at the roundabout and the guard at the gate will point you to the building where the meeting is) tonight at 5:45pm. I hope everyone can make it. The island really does need all our input if we are all to enjoy it and it's success.

4:26 PM  
Blogger Trisha said...

Anon, as I previously mentioned, I'm not a skater.

Your request for me to lighten up? DENIED.

4:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found my other coat.
From the March 22 CA
"Each of the past three years, more than 160,000 people visited during the 6-1/2-month operating season. That's up substantially from the approximately 117,000 and 112,000 who attended during the 2002 and 2003 seasons, respectively."
There's your tidbit.
I can't attend tonight and don't need to. Secret Cabal member here, remember?
Actually, everyone on here but Kristopher has kind of won me over to your side, kind of.

4:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And Trisha. Really way to uptight, that one.

4:42 PM  
Blogger Kristopher said...

It's always nice to have ones efforts acknowledged.

"Each of the past three years, more than 160,000 people visited during the 6-1/2-month operating season. That's up substantially from the approximately 117,000 and 112,000 who attended during the 2002 and 2003 seasons, respectively." Cool. I'm glad to hear it.

Now let's see what we can do to double those numbers!

4:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you know what would really double those numbers? Jogging trail.

4:53 PM  
Blogger Kristopher said...

And Trisha. Really way to uptight, that one.Anon, if you continue to address my wife in that way, you run the risk of offending me and my family. Fair warning.

Your post have been seen publicly to be uptight enough to have you tagged with the title "Old Man Whitherspoon". I don't see her's to be any worse than yours.

Let's try to keep the direct jabs down on both sides please.

4:58 PM  
Blogger Kristopher said...

you know what would really double those numbers? Jogging trail.

Well, that and a P.F. Changs. It's all about the stone horses.

5:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See, I was starting to be pro skate park till you and now your wife starting talking again. This was a nice discussion today till you guys showed up. Seriously, lighten up francis. Old Man Witherspoon, out!

5:06 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

Ok, everyone. Let's unclench and be civil. There's nothing about this thread that a little Mahi Mahi from God's dinner trough P.F. Changs can't fix!

Although I can't believe I actually heard the "tax payer" argument...we'll let that slide! ;-)

See! It's an emoticon! Winking! Winking makes it all better.

5:54 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

How about jogging paths with giant skatable ten commandments* and little racks where the old folks can lock up their walkers?

This way we appease

1.) Joggers
2.) Skaters
3.) the Religious Right
4.) old folks

Looney Ricks and Kiss can make the check to Me. That's spelt "Emm, Eee"!

* = suck it 'Statue of Liberation'

5:59 PM  
Blogger gatesofmemphis said...

I am posting because this will be comment 100. Yee haw!

I hope SP pros and cons show up at the meeting tonight (or at least take the survey). Being an active part of a public democratic process is always a good thing.

Kudos to everybody for being civil, passionate, and for working in Scooby Doo, Stripes, concrete horse and, my fav, Our Lady of Manifest Destiny (aka, Statue of Liberation) references.

6:15 PM  
Blogger cody said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3:53 AM  
Blogger cody said...

Sir BEN,I propose turning the south strip of mud island into a arena for jousting where we may fight upon stone animals until death! I for one will joust upon the stone Bengal tigers of Panda Buffet, while you may joust upon these stone horses you speak so fondly of!

With love,

Cody Clark

3:57 AM  
Anonymous elaine said...

I could not make the meeting last night (Thursday), but I understand that there was a couple there who spoke out firmly against the skatepark but wanted more jogging trails. That anonymous couple (they did not wear the provided name tags, so I'll refer to them as Todd and Margo*) lives on Harbor Town and apparently rejected any idea that sounded like it would actually bring more people to "their" park. I thought the "Anonymous" here (seriously, how hard is it to just make up a name?!) was a troll, but i am now guessing that he is this Todd who wants to essentially sabotage any successful plans for Mud Island so he can keep it private. So all these comments about not using tax dollars to serve a select group were total bs. He wants the tax dollars to be spent on something for just his own neighborhood. Meanwhile Margo showed her ignorance and prejudice by proclaiming that if a skate park were built, there would be graffiti and crime all over the place!

* = I hope you appreciate that I have now thrown a reference to Christmas Vacation into the conversation.

8:43 AM  
Blogger Ben said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9:43 AM  
Blogger Ben said...

Cody my friend (and I refer to you as "friend" due to the fact that you clearly appreciate the decorative nature of over-sized animals), I can assure you with a unparalleled degree of certainty that my mighty Stone Ponies would eclipse your Bengal tigers with a resplendent majesty heretofore unknown by the eyes of man!

Addressing other matters, I want to assure my pro-skate park brethren that there *will* be opposition. Do not be alarmed. Do not react out of anger or hostility. So far you have the numbers. You have the facts and you've done your homework. Simply relax and destroy them with facts and kindness.

Now, lets address the undesirable element that comes with these "jogger" types. And I present these items as indisputable facts...don't believe me? Go to wikipedia - the paragon of internet integrity and truth!

1.) Joggers jog. To an annoying degree. They roam in packs and bully all other forms of pedestrian travel including walkers, strollers and children on big wheels.

2.) Joggers litter. Have you ever seen a major thoroughfare after a marathon? Little paper cups - everywhere! Also, outside of marathons, joggers tend to leave remnants of Starbucks double expresso-choco-mocca-shots (minus foam) wherever they go!

3.) Joggers leave graffiti. How many times have we seen joggers spray paint "Gentrification Rulz" or "White folks alleviatin' guilt by livin' downtown 4 lyfe"?

4.) Joggers often display an alarming amount of skin. Think of the children!! THE CHILDREN!!!

5.) Joggers support sweat shops by buying fancy, over-priced shoes (with the latest in "running" pseudo-science) from foreign countries.

There you go "joggers". I've countered your ignorant stereotypes. My balls are in your court.

9:46 AM  
Anonymous Mike Stanford said...

Here's some info for all of you who think graffiti isn't a possible repercussion of building a skatepark. The Louisville Extreme Park, which has been mentioned in several articles (Memphis Business Journal, Memphis Fyler, etc.) as the "model" for the new Memphis park has closed all facility restrooms because it's patrons could not act like adults and refrain from putting graffiti on anything that would stand still long enough. Read for yourself:
Also, the local police dept. and businesses have now been affected:

Instead of denying the possibility of graffiti & vandalism happening, why don't you set a new standard for how a skatepark should be run, both respectfully and successfully. I wish you the best of luck and I hope the new park brings tons of much-needed joy to the kids of our city!

12:38 PM  
Blogger Kristopher said...

A lot of the local skateboarders have gotten together and discussed this very issue. I'm not saying it can't or won't happen, all I can say is we don't want to see the park get negative remarks for something so stupid. We are going to try to make sure anyone who uses the parks here in Memphis has respect for their surroundings and their fellow skaters. We have been without a park of our own to long to jeopardize it with vandalism.

The Louisville park is in the middle of their downtown. It's open 24 hours with little to no authority present. Anyone, not just those using the park, can walk in and do whatever they please. Mud Island has a leg up in this regard. With it's controlled access to the park and promise of increased security on the island, troublemakers have much more to consider before they can vandalize property there. Again, I'm not saying it's impossible but we are taking steps to avoid these types of incidents.

4:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a spectacular idea. I don't skate, but Memphis needs more amenities like this. What better place than Mud Island? If Herenton thinks we should build another convention center I got a Pyramid that is easily convertible into a world-class one that he might be interested in. The powers that be entertain the idea of having an outdoors retailer with a giant catfish awning on Memphis' icon. Just no dignity at all. That's the problem, people in power here just don't have any worthy ideas. It's like they will fight til the end to slit Memphis' throat and leave it lying in the dark ages. SK8Mud!

2:01 AM  

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