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Skateboard Trees

Skateboard Trees at Mega Skate Plaza, 500 Blount Street, Fayetteville, NC

Created by David Beasley & Dorian Motowylak, 2008


Skateboard shrine must come down


By Don Worthington

Staff writer, Fayetteville Observer


Broken skateboards nailed to trees and sneakers hanging from their limbs outside the Blount Street Skate Shop.


The city’s Board of Adjustment voted 4-1 Monday to support the city’s opinion that the skateboards and sneakers are an illegal sign.


Blount Street Skate owner Ross Roggio disagrees, saying he will appeal the board’s decision to Superior Court.


Assistant City Attorney Amanda Briggs said this is a case of equitable enforcement of the sign ordinance. To allow the skate shop to display the broken skateboards gave it one more sign than other businesses.


Skateboarders attending Monday’s meeting saw it differently. Some said the trees are a work of art. Others said it was a memorial to all those who skate.


They had an almost universal reaction to the Board of Adjustment’s decision — it was people in power sticking it to them.


“I expected this,” said Stephen Waters, who works at the skate shop. “Any time you talk about skateboarding it’s a negative.


“I’ve even been ticketed just walking down the street with my skateboard.”


Waters said he had between 15 and 20 broken boards nailed to the trees. There are about 200 boards total nailed to the trees.


Displaying the broken boards and worn-out sneakers was the brainchild of David Beasley and Dorain Motowylak.


“This was never intended to be a sign. It’s a work of art,” Beasley told the Board of Adjustment.


Laney Branch, who worked at the skate shop, said it was a badge of honor for kids to have their boards nailed to the tree.


“They would come to me holding their broken boards with glee,” she said.


Marcella Casals, a mother of two who do not skate, called the tree a piece of folk art.


“It’s a creative, joyful expression, not an intent to advertise.”


Motowylak called the result a “thing of awe.” He said talking it down would “support all the hateful people who bash us.”


Briggs said the city was not anti-skateboarders.


Board of Adjustment member Lee Zuravel said this was not an attempt to stifle their creativity.


The board hears requests for variances to the city’s zoning code and cases involving decisions by the Inspection Department.


Blount Street Skate Shop owner Roggio said no one was paid to nail the boards to the trees. He said the practice will be suspended while the decision is appealed.


He added if the city wants to call the trees a sign, provisions of the ordinance would exempt the skateboards and shoes.


Signs that are not legible are exempt. Outdoor merchandise also is exempt, he said.


The city’s position is that a sign is anything that conveys a message.


Zuravel had problems with the wording of the “snipe sign” provisions of the ordinance.


The city said the skateboards and sneakers violated the “snipe signs” provision.


A snipe sign is defined as any sign attached to “any curb, sidewalk, utility pole, post fence, hydrant, bridge, another sign or surface, public bench, street light, or any tree, rock, or other natural object located on, over, or across any public street or public property.”


Briggs said the prohibition applied to signs on public and private property.




Photos ©2008 Selena Harvey - Do not reproduce without permission.

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Taken on January 30, 2008