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MPRB Candidate Questionnaire
Bill Shroyer

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 am not a skateboarder, but have been involved in some maintenance as a Parkkeeper. My Campaign manager has strong background in Skateboard activities. He ran a very successful Play It Again sports franchise in San Diego for 25 years! I found only minor issues with graffitti during almost four years in Park Maintenance.

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?

It is obvious that skateboarding is one of the growing recreational activities in our parks. As a Commissioner I would put prioritize planning and building sports that are relevant to this group of users. Let’s get real…is horseshoes or Bocceball the future? I had a Seasonal come to me and ask what “horseshoe pits” looked like. He had no idea what or where horseshoes was played. Let’s shred like Tony Hawk!! I suppose that pretty well shows how old I am but I know what is gonna need upgrading.

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.

It is indeed worldwide. My nephews in Mexico are boarders. The gender and color lines are well mixed. I’ll get back to my Campaign guy for more info, but my position on Equity is strong. The Minneapolis Park Board has been all talk/no walk(skate). I’m the first candidate to speak Spanish fluently and old but totally multi-culti. I have criticized the MPRB (Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board) in direct language for buzzword equity. They talk about racial equity without using the word Racism…it scares them to tell the truth. 80% of the good paying jobs with benefits were always white people, but 40% of the temporary, seasonal jobs were people of color/indigenous POCI. I’ve been out in the Black Hills in solidarity with the Indians defending the Paha Sapa (sacred earth) and lived on Franklin Ave. in Minneapolis. I’ve lived in Mexico, California, Puerto Rico, Florida, and Texas. Skating is worldwide and girls and women can shred too.

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?

Soccer is just a clear example of newer activities that the MPRB has embraced. But if they hadn’t noticed soccer it would have been crazy!! There is even Cricket being played in Minneapolis parks now. A list of sports or cultural activities is too long for this response but my problem with the CACs (citizen advisory committees) at the MPRB is that sometimes they work as intended but sometimes they are stacked by management with loyal followers. I have seen CACs come up with ideas that obviously were sent into little focus groups that the Board hand-picked. If the “survey” or suggestion box is rigged it is easy to get the outcome the bosses want.

We need openness and yeah, new investments that don’t come from Headquarters. Y por favor…mas ideas que vienen de las communidades inmigrantes. Let’s get more ideas from our immigrant communities!!

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?

I spent 13 years in Park Board Forestry and 4 years in Maintenance (I still work at the Board until you help get me elected). I’ve worked the Premier Baseball fields—expensive, high maintenance operations. Ice skating and Hockey are great activities but cost thousands of gallons of water and daily refreshing with new coats of water to patch up skate damage or melting. Softball, football, and many other sports are higher maintenance than Skateparks. And if the physical spaces and infrastructure worries management….why not provide skateparks so the skaters have readily available rails and features to use? A concrete and metal skate area holds up to heavy use for years.

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?

IY culture is great but liability is always scary to institutions like the MPRB. Trails and paths are gonna be open to skating but it’s tough to let structures be built without review or engineering. I will keep an open mind on how to deal with this issue. Hey, I’m a tree-climber and that is a growing sport done for recreation but if they catch you in a park tree they’re gonna kick you out. We can start with respect for the parks and work on how to increase participation in alternative activities as we go. Skateparks are the most important need for now. They are used and enjoyed by young and older, all races, male and female, LGBTQ+, all income groups. I’m supportive of increasing this use of Minneapolis Park Board space. Thanks for asking my opinions.

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