Heddens Calls on Council to Support Naming Skate Park for Georgie Tsushima

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Last month, Ames lawmakers Herman Quirmbach, a state senator, and Lisa Heddens, a state representative, attended the city’s monthly Parks and Recreation Commission meeting to support the effort to name the Ames skate park after Georgie Tsushima, the accomplished and universally admired skater from Ames High who died tragically last July, likely from complications of a head injury he suffered while skateboarding in California.

At the meeting, the Parks and Rec Commission recommended to the Ames City Council a draft of a parks naming policy — which Tsushima supporters were skeptical of because of its stipulation that there be a three-year waiting period, which could be waived in specific situations, before something is named after an “outstanding individual.”

On Tuesday, the council will consider the naming policy (item 40 on the linked PDF).

On Thursday evening, Heddens — whose daughter Makenzie used to skate with Tsushima — shot out the following email to local media, supporting the group’s naming efforts and encouraging the council to axe the three-year waiting period and move ahead with naming the skate park after Tsushima:

A group of Ames residents have been working for months to rename the skate park in Ames in honor of Georgie Tsushima. Georgie was an Ames resident who graduated from Ames High School, opened up a small business, attended Iowa State, moved away from Ames to pursue his skateboarding dream, moved back to Ames after an injury, and ultimately opened another small business; which was a place to support for those interested in the sport and artistry of skateboarding.

This group of friends, families and community members requested the naming of the park back in August, but their request was put “on-hold” as a naming policy was developed by the Ames Park and Recreation Commission. At the March Commission meeting a petition with over 2000 signatures favoring the park’s naming was presented to Commission members.

I encourage the Ames City Council members to move ahead with naming of the skate park after Georgie, as requested months ago; or in the very least, eliminate the provision in the draft naming policy regarding a three year waiting period for an outstanding individual to be considered.

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Gavin Aronsen is an editor and reporter for and founding member of the Iowa Informer. He previously worked as a city reporter for the Ames Tribune, research assistant to investigative journalist Wayne Barrett at the Village Voice, and in various roles at Mother Jones, where his work contributed to a National Magazine Award nomination for the magazine's digital media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Email: garonsen [at] iowainformer [dot] com.