In Sports

Turf Skatepark in its heyday. (PHOTO: Peter DiAntoni)

Local skaters unearth Turf park, if only for a day

Back in the late '70s, five concrete pools made up the Turf Skatepark in Greenfield. It was the kind of place that was legendary in the area, and even Tony Hawk was a fan.

Turf disappeared in 1982 when it briefly became home to a strip club, but reopened in 1987 and lasted until 1996 when it finally closed due to the decline in popularity of bowl skating.

Turf, 4267 W. Loomis Rd., was the stuff of legends, as skater Michael Schmidt describes it. "Going there when I was just a little gromp, it opened our eyes beyond what we already thought we knew. Guys would travel from all over to skate the Turf; sometime you (would) have to go down there just to see who was there."

Gone, but not forgotten, the pools were covered by concrete caps and buried under a strip mall, and only recently did they reemerge during freeway construction. From there, it was only a matter of time before skaters and fans began to start digging.

On Aug. 4, dozens of people showed up with shovels and buckets, digging through the night to relive a piece of their history. Authorities put an end to the unorganized project -- reburying it under concrete blocks -- but the movement to unearth the Turf has not stopped.

Says Schmidt,"The initial idea was just to skate it and then everyone started to write links about it, and it gained a momentum. Nobody tells us to stop and then we stop."

John Gonzales founded the Milwaukee Skateboarding Association (MSA) in order to organize efforts more efficiently. He says, "We just need support and faith of the community, and we can together bring back the Turf."

Gonzales says the skaters have contacted the city of Greenfield and the Wisconsin Historical Society, and pro skaters, like Hawk, have used Twitter to support the effort to revive the park.

According to Gonzales, Greenfield hasn't yet determined what to do with the land when the I-894 construction project is complete in 2013, though it's anticipated that the land will become a business park.

In the meantime, the MSA is holding a benefit show on Sept. 10 featuring Call Me Lightning, Get Rad and No Future at Cactus Club. They've also built a Web site, savetheturf.com, with more history, mission and information on the movement.


Talkbacks

pnclement | Aug. 26, 2010 at 4:33 a.m. (report)

Sounds like a "Turf" battle to me. Question: How important is Turf Park in both historic terms and current skateboard useage? Is there any real historic value to preserving Turf Park and was it that different or unique? As far as current skateboarders are concerned, just how good or usable would it still be? Would there be any skateboarders who would use it or is it too far "out-of-date" to be of real use?

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