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Broken promises on a roll



In passing an ordinance banning skateboards from downtown nine years ago, then-Orlando Mayor Bill Frederick and a City Council including now Mayor Glenda Hood promised the city would find a place for a park where the skateboarding public could spin its wheels. ;;Although politicians are known for empty promises, the organizers of a petition drive now are pushing the city to honor its commitment by setting aside a section of the former Naval Training Center. "The city definitely wants to build it," said Victor Perez, organizer of New Wheel Order, which will hold demonstrations and collect signatures supporting the establishment of a public skateboard park during Summerpalooza IV on Sunday, Sept. 14, at Orlando Festival Park. He envisions a park and camp with ramps and other features favored by skateboards, BMX riders and inline skaters, plus lodging, fields for other parks and a restaurant. "Within the next two years, we're looking at having the best facility at the world," he said.;;While Perez insists that Hood supports the plan to build the park, his partner, Tim Payne, is less convinced the city will come through. And the announcement Sept. 8 that two giant companies, CNL Group and St. Joe Corp., plan to develop the 1,100-acre tract -- minus any mention of skateboards -- could bode ill for the venture. "We've been swashbuckled before. There need to be people supporting us," said Payne, an Orlando native who has designed skateboard parks around the world.;;Skateboards have been barred from downtown since passage of the 1988 ordinance designed to protect buildings, pedestrians and the expensive landscaping that marks downtown. ;;A private park, which for several years welcomed their use, has closed. Lacking a sanctioned location, kids on skateboards continue to brave streets, curbs and parking lots. Already this year, police have charged 12 people with violating the ban. ;;There may be hope. While unwilling so far to commit to a location, the city has hired a consultant to design a park for skateboards and inline skating. "This is serious," said Jim DeSimone, Hood's spokesman.;;Unresolved is whether users should pay for the privilege. "Shouldn't skateboarding be free, just like basketball?" says Payne. "I just see the City of Orlando doing everything for business and people who come in, but nothing for the kids."

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