Music, skateboard event hits a wall

Summerfest competition geared towards teens dies in red tape

DALLAS -- You can ride a skateboard. You can play live music.

But during this year's Summerfest in Dallas, you can't do both.

The Battle of the Boards, Blades and Bands competition, designed to showcase local youths' skating and musical talents, never got past the drawing board.

Between the City of Dallas and Polk County, no one could agree on a place to hold the event.

The Dallas skate park seemed the obvious choice to organizers with the Dallas Area Chamber of Commerce. The chamber sponsors Summerfest.

Dallas City Manager Roger Jordan and the city's park and recreation board instead suggested using the Rotary stage at Main and Academy streets, where the annual Sounds of Summer concerts take place.

Taking the advice to forgo the skate park, Chamber organizer Roger Pope took a modified proposal to the Polk County Board of Commissioners. They could build a temporary skate park in the Academy Building parking lot near the stage -- Polk County turf.

But the county can't afford insurance for a skateboarding event, said Administrator Greg Hansen. Even if the Chamber extended its liability, the county would have to deal with injuries before the event or before signing a release, Hansen said.

Commissioners recommended using the Dallas skate park. "Why build a temporary structure when you have a state-of-the-art facility over there?" said Commissioner Tom Ritchey.

The skate park was never designed for bands, Jordan countered. Dallas had to pull strings to get residents to accept noise from the current use.

"We've had concerns from the neighborhood just from skateboarding," Jordan said. He fears setting a precedent by opening the city's parks up to loud music.

Jordan called the dilemma over the competition ironic. Just having the facilities shows Dallas considers serving young people a priority, he said.

"We never thought that building the skate park here and the Rotary stage there could limit the activities of youth in the community."

Hosting a Summerfest event that appeals to younger residents shouldn't override the agreement Dallas made with skate park neighbors, said Mayor Jim Fairchild.

"We want to give them as many opportunities as we can, but we can't trample on other people's rights in the process."

Chamber organizers could still appeal their case to the City Council. If that happens, Jordan said, he'd get a legal opinion on whether City code could ever allow for music at the skate park.

If so, the council could decide whether to allow bands with its boards and blades.

But organizers say they've worked too hard to jump through any more hoops. They're already planning for next year's competition -- in Independence, Monmouth or Salem.

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