Locals + Culture

Civic Duties | Manual Labor

8/10/2017 | Ryan Holbrook
Kerri Fukui

In our daily efforts to boast far and wide, to all-but-tepidly tout the fine facets of this city, there's a piece of the puzzle we don't often talk about. We rave, yes. We holler, for certain. Our praise and worship knows no bounds. But we'd be remiss if we didn't mention just how SLC got to a point where's she's worthy of such glorification. For every perfectly-platted portion of our state and immaculately-arranged space, there's a corresponding worker bee that made it possible. Our incredible city is a product of continual change, thanks to hard-fought efforts on the parts of so many behind the scenes.

With a healthy dose of dogged determination, we can see the change we want reflected in our communities.

Josh Scheuerman is a local who exemplifies civic duty. You should be pretty well-acquainted with the guy by now...you've seen his many efforts to boost the art community, clean our canyons, and address homelessness on this very website no less than 10 times (think: Art Adoption/Four Corners/selfless do-goodery), but he's improved our city in ways you may not know about, as well. Despite the painstaking efforts associated with municipal change, Josh knows well the advantages to getting involved. He's an unequivocal testament to the power of the people.

The West Valley Skate Park opened officially in October of 2016. What you may not know, however, is that the park is the fruit of more than 15 years of Josh's persistent efforts (among others). "I started skating in the early 90s, and there was a distinct lack of skate-able spots in West Valley. We were kicked out of parking lots or asked to leave the mall just for having skateboards." Roughly 10 years later--post-college and having worked for SLUG Magazine for a spell--Josh realized that implementing a spot for kids to skate might not be all that far-fetched. A group of local skaters had petitioned to build a park in Taylorsville around the same time, but their efforts fell flat. The Taylorsville park was built, albeit poorly, to the point where it went all but unused by skaters. The park then became a spot for less-savory activity, giving skateparks a bad rap in the eyes of both community members and local elected officials (and consequently decreasing the desire to fund them). While the story of the Taylorsville park is an unfortunate one, it sparked Josh's 15-year crusade to ensure that a younger generation of skaters would have the park he never did. Clean, well built, and complete with all the trappings necessary to throw down. 

Josh did the unthinkable. He got involved.

He began attending city council meetings with the intention of convincing local, elected officials and community members that a skate park was an endeavor worthy of tax-payer dollars. For years he engaged in countless meetings, planning, research, reports, and afternoons spent--literally--going door to door to rouse support. Funding for the park was nearly procured twice before 2012, when he finally convinced the Mayor of West Valley to set aside the city's share of ZAPP Tax funds for the park. "Every citizen has more power than they think they have," Josh notes. "It seems daunting to engage elected officials, but they won't hear the voice of the people unless it speaks up." In 2014, the design process began. A citizens committee, the Parks and Rec department, and SITE Design meticulously constructed the plan for a park that is a true tour de force among skating spots in our state.

West Valley Skate Park is officially Utah's largest skate park at 31,000 square feet.

Notable features include the state's only snake run and keyhole, plenty of bowls, a beginner area, rails, boxes, and flat ground.

hell of a blueprint for how to affect change

One of the hallmarks of skating is the insane level of perserverance it demands. From griding a twenty-stair handrail to landing a first pop-shove-it, the likelihood of successfully stomping first try is slim to none. Chances are, you'll bloody yourself a bit before you get it, and as a skater, Josh knows this as well as anyone. Aptly, he brought the same grit and determination to his civic engagement. Throughout the 15-year process, there were endless setbacks and rejections, frustrating near-successes. But, as with any determined skater, Josh didn't quit. From neighborhood to city, county to state, change is possible if those who call these briny boulevards "home" demand it.

"Wherever you live, get involved. Propose your ideas, and be relentless! Change can take a long time to come about, but believe in your cause and make your position known. Everyone is capable of challenging and changing their respective communities for the better."

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