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MPRB Candidate Questionnaire
Billy Menz

Describe your personal experience with skateboarding. Have you ever been a skateboarder? Do you personally know any skateboarders? What is your general perception of the activity?

I could never figure out how to ollie as a kid, but I know and support skateboarders. I believe we need to have activities that challenge kids to fail and learn from those mistakes. Skateboarding is an activity that promotes individuality, perseverance and grit. I am fully supportive of skate parks in Minneapolis.

MPRB currently has 1 skatepark in each of the 6 MPRB districts. Each MPRB skatepark is over 11 years old and is in need of replacement due to poor design and materials. MPRB has invested $0 into skateparks and skateboard infrastructure in the past decade. Over the past 4 years skateboard supporters and City of Skate have worked to have 10 new skateparks designated into MPRB master plans. We hope to have a citywide total of 20 skateparks and skate-spaces, once all masterplanning is complete in 2020. As of today, MPRB has not funded nor prioritized any one of these designated new skateparks. How will you prioritize and work to fund skateparks?

One in each District seems very low. I know that I will be promoting more skateparks in District 1 because we have a large skate community. This issue will be a part of the plan for District 1.

In 2017 and 2018 Minneapolis is hosting the world’s largest skateboard competition, X Games. During X Games Minneapolis, women and men will compete in skateboarding contests that will also be added to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Skateboarding is seen by many as a worldwide equity activity that has little barrier to participation. Do you see a connection between skateboarding and social, racial, gender, and economic equity? If so, please share a few thoughts.

I think it is incredible that the X games are here in Minneapolis and I want to remind people that these types of events are as much a result of the stadium being built as the Vikings and the Super Bowl. The capacity to host unique events like the x games puts a focus on new ways to demonstrate athletic creativity. Not everyone subscribes to the traditional sports structure and with Minneapolis hosting this event, we have an opportunity to engage different groups in these sports. Let’s look to grow our understanding of new activities. I want Bottineau’s skate park to be a place where many communities can access a new sport. How do we get the X Games to be a partner in this effort similar to how the Twins support RBI Baseball in the community.

Skateboarding has always had an appeal to teenagers and kids, but after many decades, skateboarding is now a multigenerational activity that maintains a user group that varies in ages from approximately 4 to 60+ years old. MPRB needs more opportunities for our citizens to be active and creative. Along with skateboarding, what investments and activities can MPRB embrace to make our communities more active and interactive?

This is a major part of my platform. The people in the parks are the value of our park system. We have tennis courts in disrepair, unused space, opportunities for new activities and spaces for all park goers. We can work to engage all kids and adults in our parks. It is imperative our parks be a place where different cultures and generations can not only play with each other but also learn from each other.

With little to no maintenance needed, quality concrete skateparks are an efficient use of tax payer resources. Other park amenities like ballfields, pools, ice rinks, and courts need large dedicated spaces and are often expensive to maintain financially and environmentally. Additionally, during the last decade, MPRB has spent more money trying to stop skateboarding via defensive architecture (skate-stoppers) than it has on skateboard parks and/or features. With collaboration during design and build processes, would you support skateboarding via the activation of everyday park features such as benches, stairs, railings, ledges and sculptures for skateboarding?

Although I think there need to be rules and structures for park engagement. Sort of from the standpoint that my freedom ends when another’s begins. I don’t want a skateboarder flying over my bench I am sitting on, but I think we need to be building things in the park that support people in them. This type of defensive architecture is particularly difficult for transient people as well who may want to use benches for a nap. I am not in support of building any structure in the parks designed to keep groups out.

To be able to practice and challenge their skills, skateboarders have always sought underutilized public spaces like deserted plazas, schoolyards, tennis courts, and parking lots. Often skate culture has brought a “Do It Yourself” (D.I.Y.) creativity to spaces, creating their own skate features and spaces.  Would you be willing to work with the skate community to sanction spaces for skateboarders to create their own D.I.Y. spaces?

Yes. I think that community input would be important but I am willing to support organized groups utilizing spaces to promote positive activity in the park. Skateboarding gets a bad rap sometimes, but any way we can engage youth in the parks and keep them safe is a way we are building and supporting our community.

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