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She was also instrumental in securing a $110,000 federal grant that was used to build an eight-foot-high steel fence and install lighting. For the past decade and a half, Lambeth adds, she has gathered her preservation buddies to plant trees and spread fresh mulch three or four times a year. She has also led efforts to place grave markers for the African-Americans laid to rest in the segregated part of the cemetery.
The CRA's plan to convert the city-owned lot next door into a skate park has left her flabbergasted. In Lambeth's view, skaters fall into the same social category as the vagrants she chased out 12 years ago. "I'm not saying all skateboarders are bad," she says. "But the majority I have seen invite graffiti and vandalism. That is unacceptable next to a historic cemetery."
Lambeth, who also questions why the city would reduce green space to spend $700,000 on a concrete skate park, quickly mobilized her coalition, which includes former Sen. Bob Graham, car dealership mogul Norman Braman, and Miami historians Paul George and Enid Pinkney, who is head of the Dade Heritage Trust's African-American Committee. Pinkney doesn't mince words about the controversy. "I think the city can find another spot for the skate park," she says. "They just don't want to. It is a lot easier for them to disrespect Miami's history."
Using her skills as a publicist, Lambeth bombarded local media outlets, including New Times, with news releases announcing the unified front against the Miami skate park. To cast her ominous PR message, she emailed stock images of skateboarders standing before graffiti-covered walls while smoking cigarettes. In some instances, her pitch succeeded. An August 22 Miami Herald article played up Lambeth's negative slant, citing the closure of a skate park in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, after vandals set fires there.
To counter the attacks, Levy has been supplying reporters and city officials with research that pretty much debunks the opponents' main objections. Lambeth acknowledges that Levy met with her and Pinkney to show them skate parks built next to cemeteries in Piedmont, California; Fayetteville, West Virginia; Medford, Oregon; and Independence, Missouri. "He was very nice," Lambeth says. "He offered to get the skaters to volunteer at the cemetery, and he probably would. But bringing all that concrete to a public park is just not a good idea. Why not take it to a warehouse or an abandoned shopping mall or an underpass?"
A white Chevy work van rumbles north on I-95 just past Exit 205C as the sun breaks over the horizon on the east side of the highway. Levy, with a black mesh baseball cap covering his clean-shaven, cherubic face, snores atop a burgundy-and-gold floral-print bench in the back of the van. Skateboards of various shapes and protective helmets lie scattered on the floor.
A metal grate separates the hull from the front cabin, where Stack sits behind the wheel. Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb" softly plays on the CD player. The Miami Norland Senior High alum's intense blue eyes peer at his side mirror, where he spots Hurtado tailing him in a silver Cadillac STS sedan. "I see he decided to leave the Escalade at home for this trip," Stack cracks.
Born and raised in Miami, Stack began riding in 1973, when he was 8 years old. He's considered old-school, a guy who skates only ramps, bowls, and empty pools. "I don't like my feet touching the ground when I skate," Stack explains. "I'm not the greatest and I'm not the worst skater out there. But I can ride on any type of skateboard."
Die-hard skaters such as Stack spend almost every free moment riding a deck. The desire to land a trick is addictive. At a skate park like One Cool World, it's not unusual to see a teenaged boy spending four hours practicing a backside ollie over a street ramp or doing a 360-degree turn at the top of a quarter-pipe. For Stack and his young compatriots, skateboarding is a way of life.
Stack began riding when skateboarding was emerging as a sport in Florida and California, birthplace of the Z-Boys, a group of Santa Monica surfer-skaters that pioneered the sport in the early '70s. Stack was part of the South Florida scene that produced legendary Skateboarding Hall of Famers such as vert king Robbie Weir and Mike McGill, inventor of a 540-degree aerial skate trick dubbed the McTwist. Both guys were members of the Bones Brigade, a skate team sponsored by Powell-Peralta, the largest skateboard company during the '70s and '80s. Stack would run into the two Brigadiers and other pioneers such as Alan "Ollie" Gelfand — the Hollywood, Florida, skater who invented the ollie — at the Runway in Perrine. Nicknamed "the Kinkway" because of its bumpy transitions, it was the first and biggest skate park in the Miami area until it closed in 1980.
Nine years later, Stack was living on South Beach and running his own company, Waiters on Wheels. "I loved it," he says. "I got to skate from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for work, and when I was finished, I got to skate the empty pools of the vacant hotels on Collins Ave. It was a real gnarly experience, dude."