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MN 2020 Candidate Questionnaire
Melisa Lopez Franzen DFL District 49
Describe your personal experience with skateboarding. Are you a skateboarder? Have you ever been a skateboarder? Do you personally know any skateboarders? What is your general perception of the activity?
I grew up in Puerto Rico where many of my friends skateboarded competitively and had dedicated places to convene. While I do not skateboard, I believe that skateboarding is a great activity and I support public places to practice as a competitive sport or recreation.
Skateboarding has always had an appeal to youth and kids, but after many decades, skateboarding is now a multigenerational activity (ages 3-60+ years). Minnesota needs more opportunities for our citizens to be outside, active and creative in community social spaces. Do the communities you would represent have quality, accessible and visible skateboard spaces?
In Senate District 49, which I represent, there is the Tri-City Skate Park serving the cities of Edina, Bloomington and Richfield. This skatepark is a partnership between the Southdale YMCA and these cities. There is also the Help Boardshop and Indoor Skateshop in my district. This creative space gives people the opportunity to skateboard throughout the year regardless of the weather.
Minnesota hosted the world’s largest skateboard competition, X Games in 2017, 2018 and 2019. During the three X Games Minneapolis events, women and men competed in skateboarding contests that will also be added to the Olympics for Tokyo 2021. Skateboarding has become a worldwide equity activity that has little barrier to participation other than safe places to roll. Do you see a connection between skateboarding and social, racial, gender and economic equity? If so, please share a few thoughts.
Skateboarding has a low barrier to participation and gives individuals from all walks of life an opportunity to participate regardless of age, gender, race, and socioeconomic status. Skateboarding provides a great opportunity for people to interact and support each other.
Quality concrete skateparks are an efficient use and value of tax payer resources due to their constant use and minimal maintenance. Other community amenities like ballfields, pools, ice rinks, trails and courts need large dedicated spaces, costly programming, and are often expensive to maintain financially and environmentally. Beyond team sports, our community members need activities that challenge them mentally and physically. How will you support youth and community health with new ideas and infrastructure?
Government needs to be creative and budget for this type of infrastructure in public places. The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that we need to support activities that allow people to challenge themselves while being socially distanced from one another.
Skateboarding is an individual challenging activity that can be done alone, but flourishes at community public skateparks that also can work within our COVID-19 era of social distancing. The University of Southern California just completed a study of skateboarding with these findings, “What we learned from skateboarding youth was profound. Study data illustrate how skateboarding bolsters mental health and facilitates community. Skaters of color explained feeling safer and more supported in the skate community. Skaters clearly articulated skills they learned through skating, such as persistence (skaters will practice a trick hundreds of times until they land it), problem solving, intergenerational and cross-cultural communication.” Our Minnesota communities need new ideas and resources to help serve our youth. Will you support the MN State Skate Park Matching Grant Program HF2490/SF1490?