Columbia skateboarding reaches prominence with time and effort


George Sarafianos

RBHS Sophomore Andy Carranza gets air at the skate park located in the Columbia Cosmopolitan Recreation Center
RBHS Sophomore Andy Carranza gets air at the skate park located in the Columbia Cosmopolitan Recreation Center
In 1988, Christopher Bailey began riding a skateboard around on his bottom at the age of 13. Soon afterward he began to stand on his feet, and has since become co-owner of Parkside Skateshop, currently located at 1614 Business Loop 70 W.
Opening the business March 1, 2009, along with Shane Stander, Bailey has gone the last four years working to make skateboarding something more accessible to the youth of Columbia. In 2011, Bailey went before city council in hopes to amend city ordinance 14-5 which at the time stated that the use of skateboards and roller skates was limited to local or residential streets.
Bailey’s goal was to have skateboards allowed to be used as ‘green’ non-motorized methods of transportation in downtown and University of Missouri- Columbia campus areas.
“I heard about Bike Walk and Wheel Week and thought, ‘What the hell?’” Bailey said. “It kind of lit a fire under my a– because I thought it was very contradictory and hypocritical of the city to support this thing but at the same time have skateboarding illegal.”
Upon discovering Columbia’s reception of $21 million for ‘green’ transportation, Bailey thought it contradictory to have riding non-motorized vehicles such as skateboards illegal in certain areas of the city yet at the same time support other methods of transportation already apart of Bike, Walk and Wheel Week, such as bicycles, scooters, etc. In preparation, Bailey researched other cities that had had similar ordinances in the past and steps they had taken to help skateboarding become more acceptable.
The 38-year-old skateboarder then went on to contact several commissions and organizations throughout the city including PedNet, The Commission of Physical Fitness and more all of which gave him letters of approval, aiding in the credibility of Bailey’s cause when presented to city council. Upon hearing his case in which Bailey pointed out skateboarding as a practical solution to such problems as obesity, traffic congestion and high gas prices, city council unanimously voted to pass an amendment allowing skateboards on the roads of the business district.
“It was something that we could easily do that would not cost the city a dime and also do what they are trying to do,” Bailey said. “[It is] the squeaky wheel that gets the grease, if you keep on squeaking and makin’ noise, they’re eventually gonna have to shut you up.”
Fast forward to 2013 and the Columbia Parks and Recreation and Open Space Master Plan has set aside more than $800,000 for the improvement and development of skateboarding facilities. Now planning on expanding Columbia’s current 28,000 sq. ft. skatepark located in the back of the Columbia Cosmopolitan Recreation Area to a 250,000 sq. ft. plaza as well as a 25,000 sq. ft. bowl. Columbia Parks and Recreation also intends to build a small skateboarding facility at Douglass Park.
“One thing we got is we got it in the master plan,” Bailey said, “They had a big survey on the Parks and Recreation Department website so people could go and let them know what kind of park amenities the city wants which is based off of public input. So I pushed a lot of people to go will out that survey, which helped rank skateboarding higher on the priority line, which help get more skateboarding in the master plan.”
Out of gratitude, Bailey’s wish is to simply have skateboarding be as accessible as possible for everyone.
Skateboarding “provides a lot of life lessons; trial and error,” Bailey said. “You get the camaraderie out of it but, it doesn’t have to have a full team, or be as organized. And another thing is that it’s a lot easier to be a part of in low income areas.”
Having the entire skateboarding community as support, Bailey and his business partner and longtime friend Shane Stander continue to run Parkside Skateshop as a place where anyone who wants to see what skateboarding is about, can. RBHS freshman Nathan Garriott has been skateboarding for as long as he can remember, and is positive that these decisions made by Columbia Parks and Recreation will do nothing but good for both the community and skateboarding.
“Skating’s unique in a way that; as long as you’re actually physically skateboarding, almost nothing bad can happen. You’re not doing anything bad, you’re not hurting anyone, you’re just taking something, and making something else out of it,” Garriott said. “It helps to teach you that you have to commit to it even if it’s scary, you learn really fast that the only way to actually enjoy it is to put everything you have into it, and that’s a really big part of life, so if you think about it, more skateparks just means more kids will get introduced to something that might change their whole life. And that’s pretty important.”
Being another one of the many skateboarders at RBHS, senior Kyle Zynda feels skateboarding helps make relationships that are unlike any bond that could be created elsewhere.
“There’s a lot of people in my life that, the only interaction that we have ever had is through skateboarding,” Zynda said. “We didn’t live by each other, we didn’t go to school together, but we both spend so much of our time skating that we’ve just bonded in a special way. Some people I skate with to this day, I don’t even really know that well, but I do know that they feel the same way I do about skating, and that says enough.”
When asked for his opinion on the city’s plan for more parks, Zynda said, “If there is any way that more people can be able to see how great skating is, then I’m on board, and right now more skateparks seems like the perfect way.”
By George Sarafianos