At a fateful meeting with the youth of Grace United Methodist Church in 2004, AMOS organizers and leaders learned that young people not involved in organized sports needed more recreational opportunities. Although several “skate zones" or "plazas” were located in neighborhood parks outside the city, there was no large dedicated skate park in the City of Des Moines.
AMOS leaders conducted research actions, including site visits to skate parks around the country, and began to build the political will for the park. At an AMOS assembly with over 200 people, leaders challenged Councilmembers Christine Hensley and Chris Coleman to support the building of a dedicated park for skateboarding. Both agreed.
Since then, AMOS leaders were at the center of action to promote the park, conducting meetings with Parks & Recreation staff and succeeding in persuading the City to build its first skate park: the Four Mile Skatepark in Northeast Des Moines as a short-term measure.
When efforts to identify funding for the larger park stalled, leaders persisted -- helping develop a plan to raise $3.5 million in private funds. Fundraising was supercharged in 2015 when The Leadership Circle of the Community Foundation awarded a challenge grant of $500,000 in the hopes of encouraging other contributions. Since then, Nix and Virginia Laurisden, for whom the park will be named, donated $1 million. Other individual donors and community foundations invested monies towards the effort.
On October 15th, a groundbreaking ceremony was organized to celebrate the culmination of this AMOS-initiated effort. The park, to be completed in 2019, will be the largest open-air skate park in the United States, with additional designs to meet Olympic-level qualifying competitions.
Skatepark Breaks Ground, Donor Backs $250K Sculpture, Business Record
AMOS Seeks Welfare of the City: Extended Library Hours, Park Lighting and Infrastructure in Lower Income Zip Codes
Leaders packed a church hall to engage Des Moines candidates around including AMOS priorities in key investments in lower income areas of the city. Candidates who participated and agreed to support the agenda included: Scott Sanders (Des Moines City Manager), Frank Cownie (Des Moines Mayor), Chris Coleman (Des Moines City Councilmember), Josh Mandelbaum (Des Moines City Councilmember Ward 3), and Linda Westergaard (Des Moines City Councilmember Ward 4).
The City Manager committed to including AMOS priorities in a one-cent local option sales tax increase planned for March 2019. AMOS priorities included: expansion of library hours to at least 6 days per week, lighting in two inner city parks, addressing the growing number of dilapidated/abandoned homes in 50314 and 50316 zip codes, doubling the number of rental housing inspectors, startup funds for a children's mental health crisis unit / observation center, and basic infrastructure improvements (i.e. streets, sidewalks, sewers, and snow removal).
Leaders plan to follow up with public officials who made commitments in early 2019 to ensure their fulfill their pledges.
Group Pushes Des Moines to Use Sales Tax Money to Extend Library Hours, Des Moines Register
Early this year, 200 COPS/Metro leaders assembled to fight for the future of Beacon Hill Dual Language Academy. One issue raised by leaders was the restriction of children from access to a playground that had been fenced off because debris from a vacant, crumbling building could potentially hit children. Though the SAISD building had lain vacant for 20 years, with no plans in place for renovation or replacement, COPS / Metro leaders accepted a commitment from a sitting Council Member to identify funding for its renovation.
With a new school year approaching, and no money in sight, leaders are insisting that the building must be removed so that children can be granted access to their playground. The San Antonio Express News agrees, stating:
The desire to preserve what once was is commendable, but in this case it obscures the present...
It’s time to move forward, and let the kids play.
[Photo Credit: Josh Brodesky, Express News]
Leaders celebrated additional wins in areas impacting workers, children and families: $350K in increased investment in long-term job training program Capital IDEA, $3 million in added investments in parks, pools and libraries, $684K for AISD parents support specialists, $520K for Primetime after-school programming, and at least $1.6 Million for property tax breaks for seniors and disabled homeowners.Read more
The Rio Grande Guardian reports:Read more
300 leaders of EPISO organized a runoff accountability session at San Juan Diego Catholic Church late July. Reports the El Paso Times, "Vince Perez, a former communications director for U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, and state Rep. Inocente "Chente" Quintanilla took questions from about 300 residents of the unincorporated community in East El Paso County during a two-hour event Sunday.Read more
EPISO, Border Interfaith Gather Input on Quality-of-Life Bond, El Paso Times (04/29)