Marfa Roller Derby – on thin ice with city – skate MAC building issues
By ALBERTO TOMAS HALPERN
MARFA – City officials allowed Marfa Roller Derby to schedule three upcoming community skate nights at the MAC building, but not without much debate Tuesday night.
Officials entered into an extensive discussion on whether to allow Marfa Roller Derby (MRD) the continued use of the MAC, which touched on the city’s long-term needs for the facility, liability issues, and economic development.
After thanking city officials for previous use of the building for community events, MRD spokespersons Cat Cox, Cory Cason and Maya Guevara proposed three more community skating events.
City Administrator Jim Mustard raised concerns about cleanup of the facility, saying there have been some “hiccups,” but more importantly, “the deterioration of the floor has increased.”
Mustard acknowledged that it is “not the skating per se,” that has caused the deterioration entirely, but that “the floor has passed its useful life,” and that expanding the use of the building to the community should be questioned.
“Will this expose the city to potential liability issues,” City Councilman, mayor pro-tem, and federal public defender David Fannin asked.
“Everyone signs a waiver,” Cox explained, saying MRD and the City of Marfa will be exempt from liabilities. “They skate at their own risk.”
“But we know there’s a danger,” Fannin replied.
Cason pleaded with city officials, arguing that the use of the MAC building has saved their organization. “The space is really important to us and crucial to the survival of our organization. We feel like we’re good stewards of the space,” Cason said, adding that MRD has done its part to fix up the space to a certain extent.
Councilman David Beebe, who also sits on the Parks and Recreation Board and is a roller derby promoter, said the MAC building floor has been an issue for many years.
Beebe questioned where the city draws the limit for use of the facility. “If we have a floor not really usable for activities, then we really don’t have a facility.”
Fannin said that this was the point to discuss liabilities versus known liabilities.
Councilwoman Josie Simpson joined in the discussion, saying, “I would like to make (MRD) responsible” for cleanup.
Cox said that they do clean up their space and argued there are inherent problems with a multi-use space such as the MAC building when it comes to cleanup.
“We don’t want to spend any more money” on cleanup, Simpson said.
“I agree. We really appreciate this privilege and we don’t want to risk losing” the space, Cox said.
Mahala Guevara, who was sitting in the audience, stood up and addressed council members. Explaining that she, her husband and teenage daughters had recently moved to Marfa, “In evaluating the choice in whether or not to move here, the fact that Marfa had a roller derby team was a big factor. This town has amazing resources…but one of the things I’ve seen lacking is resources for teenagers and young people.”
Guevara added that the activities of MRD were not merely a “pet project, they’re really doing a service. Their commitment is part of the reason my family moved here.”
“There’s no question that it serves a void for younger age kids,” Mustard said.
After digressing into a discussion as to what to do to the MAC building floor, Mustard steered the conversation back to the agenda item.
“For the time being, I would like MRD to continue using the building. I also want everyone to make sure it’s clean. If the tiles (in the floor) need to be repaired, I want MRD to tell us about it,” said Fannin.
“Is that a motion,” asked Beebe.
Fannin motioned and Beebe quickly seconded, suggesting that MRD put traffic cones above damaged floor areas as a temporary solution. The vote passed, 2-1, with Fannin and Beebe voting in the affirmative and Simpson dissenting.
“Skate safe,” Mustard said as MRD members exited city hall.