Saturday, September 3, 2011

In disagreement with city, OSP operator skips town, leaving free skateboarding in its wake

Posted By on Sat, Sep 3, 2011 at 3:45 PM

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Alright, skateboarders, if you’d like to take advantage of what may be the only period in which admission to the Orlando Skate Park (OSP) is free for three straight days, you’d best head over now. The former park operator, Action Park Alliance (APA), officially terminated its contract with the city on August 27, taking with it the innards of the skate shop which also serves as an entry point into the park. The California-headquartered APA also yanked its computers and cash register, which means that the park, now operated by the city, will not be charging skateboarders admission until Tuesday, when OSP’s office is slated to be restocked with equipment. Now go skate! The park, located at 400 Festival Way (near the Fashion Square Mall), is open tonight until 11, tomorrow from 9 a.m.- 9 p.m., and on Monday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. But remember: you’ll still be required to sign a waiver and wear a helmet. Now, for non-skateboarders, lazy skateboarders, retired skateboarders, or skateboarders just returning from the aforementioned free session, here are some details of the dispute, though we still don’t quite understand all of it. According to the city, there was some miscommunication about the end date of APA’s contract, but according to the company’s lawyer, Jeffrey Dermer—whose Twitter moniker is Sk8park_Lawyer, by the way—the city, “without permission or legal right, came on the property, strong-armed and misled APA’s employees to quit their employment with APA, agree to work for the City, and hide the same from APA while pumping them for information that included confidential, proprietary, and trade secrets.” (See page 13 of the document attached below, which is a scanned record of correspondence supplied to the Weekly by the City of Orlando.) According to park employee Teddy Isbell, there is some truth to the notion that employees were quietly prodded to jump from the APA payroll to the city’s, but Isbell says this process was initiated by an APA manager with knowledge of the contract’s impending ending. “[The APA manager] said: If you want to keep working at the skate park, you’ve got to become a city employee,’” says Isbell, and recalls being handed a form to sign by the said manager. What are these “trade secrets,” exactly? The science of helmet-stacking, or a patented grip-tape application technique, perhaps? When reached by phone, Dermer wouldn’t give specifics, but he indicates that despite his scathing charges, the company may just let sleeping dogs lie—APA was planning on leaving Orlando anyway, due to contract terms with which it disagreed, as well as nine years of unimpressive revenues. “They never made any money at the location; it wasn’t really a good financial deal,” Dermer says. According to city spokesperson Heather Fagan, the city had no problem with APA—she suggested that the entire fiasco was the result of a miscommunication. “We actually tried to have them stay with us longer, and they declined,” Fagan says. “Their last thing in writing to us was that they wanted out.” Fagan cannot say whether the current rate of $8 per day (for non-members) will be “adjusted,” but she doesn’t rule out the possibility. Executives at APA could not be reached for comment. [scribd id=63880181 key=key-20aajhkvo0j2z131bpzv mode=list]

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