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Simply put, Skate World provides an outstanding community service. We need it, and Gresham is better for it.

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP FILE PHOTO - Gresham Skate World, which opened in 1974, is closing after Rise City Church bought the property to use as its new home. Skate World has provided a safe, enriching atmosphere for the community's adolescents for generations.

To this day, it is a refuge for Gresham's more vulnerable kids, a place they can go to feel they belong and relieve the stress they carry from problems at home.

Manager Josh Bird emphasized Skate World's long-term, positive impact on the community by saying, "We've had a lot of foster families come in here over the years. And when you take kids that have had a harder life and get them around kids their age, you get friendships and bonds made.

Katelyn Convery"It makes them feel a little more at home. They have somewhere they can go and feel part of something. We've had a lot of those kids come back and say, 'You know if it weren't for this place I might have run away from my foster home. But this place made me want to stay.'"

Simply put, Skate World provides an outstanding community service. We need it, and Gresham is better for it. The beloved, however grimy, skating rink has been purchased by Rise Church, which plans to renovate it into a church facility for their congregation.

I ask that Rise Church reconsider their decision and put the building on the market so a buyer who will actually refurbish the rink can be found. Give the community a chance to come together and purchase the property or find investors who will, if we must.

Rise Church has a large congregation, whose donated money goes untaxed. They have options as far as where they can build their church. Bennie Thompson, Skate World employee for four years, does not have another option for a skating rink near his house open 365 days a year.

"Personally, I think they're choosing the wrong area. They're taking a lot. It may not look like a lot, but they're taking a lot. People come here when they're feeling down … this is home," Thompson said.

And Marta Buños doesn't have another option for a safe, indoor facility to take her children where they can be active, social and, most importantly, screen-free: "We need to have more consideration for the children and their futures. They need a place like this."

Churches are supposed to be pro-community, which means the entire community, not just their own. If they won't consider putting the rink on the market, Mandy Littrell has another idea, "Maybe we could ask the church? Pray that maybe they would be willing to keep this as a community center and keep the rink here for what it is?

"It's a legend. I mean it can be owned by the church, but can it still serve this purpose? I'd still come. I don't want to see this end."

We're asking Rise Church, some of us are even praying, please think of the rest of us. Is there a better way?

Katelyn Convery is a graduate of Sam Barlow High and the University of Oregon, a singer-songwriter, Realtor and investor, who owns a general contracting company. Contact her at IG@katelynconverymusic.

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