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Coleman skaters roll for funds for park

The determined skateboarders at the middle school have even asked Joe Redner of Mons Venus to aid their quest.

By RON MATUS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 8, 2002


First, they collected petitions. Now they're asking for money.

Coleman Middle School's activist skateboarders are entering Phase Two of their quest to get a skate park for South Tampa.

And they're not squeamish about whom they ask for help.

Among the five entities they wrote to last week: Joe Redner. Yes, he of Mons Venus fame.

So far, Redner hasn't written back. But he told the St. Petersburg Times a skate park was worth his consideration.

The school skate club is also awaiting a reply from Hooter's, Capital One and Caspers Co., the franchisee for 50 area McDonald's restaurants.

The fifth company on the wish list, Outback Steakhouse, already expressed interest in the idea and contacted the club before letters were sent, said Bryan Perry, club adviser and Coleman's school resource officer.

The club is organizing a breakfast or lunch meeting in December where it can make its pitch to company officials.

It's gunning for $120,000.

Club members hope that if they can raise the money for equipment, the city will find a site.

Many say they've been chased by cops and accused of damaging private property. They also say existing skate parks are too far from their part of South Tampa, including a new city facility planned for Palmetto Beach, south of Ybor City.

Some adults are sympathetic.

Last month, Glenn and Sally Tanner flew Perry to Maine so he could see skate parks built by MBNA. The credit card company leases the facilities to local governments at low cost, Perry said.

The Tanners, who own a second home in Maine, have two grandchildren at Coleman, including Alex Tanner, 12, an avid skateboarder.

Skate club members aren't naive, Perry said. They know which companies have deep pockets -- and who Redner is.

The strip-club mogul said he has donated money to children's causes in the past, including new softball fields. Currently, he is building a public park on land he owns in West Tampa.

So if Redner says yes to a skate park?

"That's going to be a stickler," Perry admitted. "Should I turn our kids away from this man because he wants to give them money?"

They'll cross that bridge if it comes, he said.

-- Ron Matus can be reached at 226-3405 or matus@sptimes.com.

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