PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A nonprofit praised by kids as an oasis in West Philadelphia is now in limbo after a contract dispute between the organization and the city. Skate University helps children inside Philadelphia escape urban life.
James, who is 11-year-old, calls the program his summer home. However, this might be the last time he’s rolling around with fellow skaters.READ MORE: EXCLUSIVE: Body Of Missing 26-Year-Old Casey Johnston Recovered, Officials Say
A letter from city government told founder Cohen Thompson the locks at their location were being changed. The letter went on to say that starting the following week, “Philadelphia Parks and Recreation person will be on site at Granahan Playground to manage the facility and activities.”
It’s a blow to Thompson, who says the program is now a sought-out outlet.
“What we do is we come out here and empower these kids,” he told Eyewitness News.
City government says Thompson had several violations like posting videos of playground events without permission, subleasing the facilities, and storing unauthorized propane tanks.READ MORE: Colts' Carson Wentz Choosing Rest, Rehab For Foot Injury, Remains Out Indefinitely
Parents like Marisa Gibson and her son Deandre are helping Thompson clear out the space. The mother says the dispute is a blow to the community as well.
“This hurts hard,” she said. “The city has taken something from a great person that could turn to gun violence or the streets.”
Her son agrees, comparing the skating element to therapy. “It’s relief.”
CBS3 reached out to city officials, who said in part they want to continue the agreement with Skate University but “under [their] terms.” This means it’s up to Thompson to pursue the agreement.MORE NEWS: Philadelphia Fire Crews Battle Junkyard Fire In Port Richmond
CBS3’s Wakisha Bailey reports.