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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Conrad Bowers, Nazareth's One Man Wrecking Crew, Tries to Close Skate Park

Appointed Nazareth Borough Councilman Conrad Bowers is doing all he can, in his waning days on borough council, to prove voters are right about him. This is the story of how one unelected councilman took it upon himself to alienate skateboarders and cause even more divisiveness in Nazareth over an emotional topic.

Who is Conrad Bowers?

Nazareth Borough Council first disappointed Bowers last December when it decided to follow the Sunshine Act, even when it only involves borough committees. Bowers adamantly opposes opening the doors to the public. Giving people a say in their own government might make it "too unwieldy."

After being forced to open his "transition" committee to the public, Bowers still refused to allow them to participate. For that little trick, Bowers lost his chairmanship .

Bowers was finally forced to listen to people at the one place where it truly matters - the ballot box. He finished dead last among four candidates seeking two positions. He ended up with 55 votes. Perhaps we thought he might make council "too unwieldy."

Now a lame duck, Bowers has become a divisive one-man wrecking crew, intent on creating unnecessary rifts throughout Nazareth. And he's doing it with the skatepark.

Nazareth's Skatepark a hot topic

Skateboarding, at least in Nazareth, is controversial. When the skatepark opened this Saturday, many people responded enthusiastically. Over two hundred people attended the ribbon cutting ceremony. Among them was Congressman Charlie Dent. He was not there for votes, but because his sons insisted. Parents brought lawn chairs to watch their kids in action. Curt's Cyclery joined other sponsors mentioned in my original post. Businesses and families kicked in another $200 on opening day.

But there's a dark undercurrent in Nazareth that seems to detest the very idea that kids might enjoy themselves. "All I want from you is silence, and damn little of that." Here's what some folks anonymously say about the skatepark, skateboarders and me. They're only right about me.

Whoopdee damn doo.

Hey the world needs ditch-diggers, too. And, I guess, skateboarders.

Mr. Herbst almost did a good job with the skate park the only thing he forgot to do was..... THINK it through.

Your [sic] an asshole. Glad i moved out of that town before you moved in. Get a life. Vermen [sic] like you deserve everything they get.

I just read your crap about the poor skateboarders. You really have no idea what the community of Nazareth puts up with when it comes to these monsters. They have no manners and are not taught any respect.

Well, these folks now have a champion. His name is Conrad Bowers. And he's out to kick some skateboarder butt.

Conrad Bowers, Skatepark Inspector

Early yesterday morning, he took it upon himself to inspect the skatepark in his official capacity as chair of the public property committee. He didn't like what he saw - litter. Apparently, he filled half a garbage bag with trash that skateboarders had failed to dispose of on their own. But then, for whatever reason, he became a "committee of one" and decided unilaterally to shut the park down.

Conrad Bowers, Skatepark Supercop

When skateboarders and their parents arrived to find the park closed, they began to complain. Police officers arrived, including Officer Gabriel and acting chief Alan Koch. Amazingly, they decided to open the park. But that didn't last long. Conrad Bowers returned, and locked the place up again, claiming there were "safety" issues. Acting Chief Koch pleaded for the kids, but Bowers outranks him. He's the skatepark supercop, and he doesn't have to answer any questions.

Believe it or not, cops sided with the kids. They like that park open. It keeps kids off the streets, away from traffic. That makes it safe enough to them. Helmeted or not, kids in skateparks are a lot safer than kids boarding down a street or around a business. And lest we forget, an insurance company inspected the park and agreed to cover any claim. But it's still not safe enough for Bowers, who refused to say what particular safety issue he had noticed.

Conrad Bowers, Minister of Secret Safety

Mother: "What safety issues?"

Bowers: "As a mother, you should know ..."

Mother: "I don't know. The park was safe on Saturday and now it's unsafe. Why?"

Bowers: "I'm not at liberty to say. You'll find out tomorrow."

Top Secret! He could tell her but then he'd have to kill her.

After all this had happened, some miserable old bastard appeared on scene. And no, it wasn't me! Hard as this may be to believe, Nazareth actually has a few miserable old bastards. This dude directed the thirty or so kids to start calling everywhere, and they did. There were calls to The Express Times, Morning Call and Channel 69. Borough council members, Mayor Keller, police, borough secretaries, and even Congressman Dent, were peppered with calls.

Conrad Bowers Takes a Powder

By late afternoon, Bowers was at the park again, refusing to answer questions. Jack Herbst, the councilman who promoted the skatepark, was also on hand. Unlike Bowers, Herbst does not consider himself a "committee of one." Channel 69 was also there, interviewing everyone. Finally, council prez Chiavaroli ordered the skatepark opened, and the kids cheered. A cameraman approached Bowers, asking to speak to him.

Bowers: "No!"

Cameramen: "Can you explain the safety issues that prompted you to close the skatepark?"

Bowers (now running to his car): "No!"

Gee, Conrad, the voters have already said "No" to you. I saw a news video of the controversy on Channel 69 last night. It really should have included Bowers running to his car, if only for comic relief. This evening, I visited the skatepark around 7 PM, and counted 32 kids in there, happily going up and down ramps.

Go figure.

These kids are off the streets, disturb no businesses and are engaged in a sport. That's where police want them. That's where kids want to be. Why is this so hard to understand? And why this constant negative undercurrent?

Bowers may think he's the skatepark inspector, supercop and minister of secret safety. He's actually a lameduck councilman who's proving to be a one-man wrecking crew in Nazareth. Maybe he should blog.
Update: Both The Morning Call and Express Times have entertaining accounts of yesterday's festivities. Only in Nazareth.


Blah Society said...

Excellent post, Bernie!

I can't believe the skatepark is still gaining all of this negative feedback. It really goes to show how some people are simply assholes. Bowers has no place in politics - at all!

I hope these kids realize what you're doing for them through blogging.

Bernie O'Hare said...

AJ, Thanks, buddy. I don't think teens and tweens are into blogs.

Anonymous said...

"Over two hundred people attended the ribbon cutting ceremony. Among them was Congressman Charlie Dent. He was not there for votes, but because his sons insisted."

Bernie O'Hare said...

Dude, you've just commented on my Bennett post and now you're here. Believe it or not, some things are not political. This is about the skatepark, not the Dent-Bennett race. Do your spinning elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, you may have read my post the last time you brought this up. I'm amazed folks are so angry. Skateboarders may dress different they may look different, some of us older types forget how we appeared to our parents in the 50's and 60's. Give these kids a break what are they doing thats so awful. As an old jock I think too many people think the world revolves around traditional sports. As far as disrespectful, hell half the adults I run into should practice what they preach. Maybe these kids should stop skateboarding and rob stores or beat up senior citizens. Come on folks get a grip.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 1:13, I caught your comment last time and appreciated it. At least we now know who's running the asylum.

Anonymous said...

Talk to the park manager

Bernie O'Hare said...

Oh I know all about the park manager and that the kids and parents were blaming her and were unfair to her. Of course, no one knew what was going on, including the park manager. I would not have wanted that job yesterday.

But none of that excuses Bowers' idiocy.

Botton line: A lot of folks are biased. A Nazareth woman commenting on The Morning Call forum put it quite nicely: I have met a lot of middle aged men with anger toward skaters, & I have decided they are jealous of the carefree attitude & skills of the youth.

Anonymous said...

I am not pro-skateboarder, but I am definitely anti-Bowers. He has demonstrated that he has no business in any position of authority. He is neither impartial nor a particularly bright individual.

As far as the skateboarders, their behavior has not made them a particularly deserving group, however, I am willing to give them a chance if they can prove that they can be more respectful and restrict most of their skating activities to the park.

My mind is firmly made up on Bowers, however. He has definitely proven his charcter (or lack therof) over and over again.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I'm not pro-skateboarder, either. I'm pro-kid. I didn;t like iot when a bunch of old farts decided toi ruin Naz Hall Park for the kids. And I don't like old farts who use every excuse they can find to prevent skateboarders from doing what they enjoy.

Anonymous said...

Well we agree on Bowers.

Jury is still out on skateboarders. The trash issue is a legitimate concern as I have seen the messes these kids have left at other venues after their skateboarding sessions.

While Jack Herbst may have done this mostly to be a hero to his kid and his friends, he is right about one thing. It is up to them whether than can handle the responsibility and gift they have received.

They don't have a great track record - there are alot of doubters out there - including me. Prove us all wrong.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 11:25,

Agreed. I'd have no problem w/ a park manager refusing to open a skatepark strewn w/ litter, or deciding to close it down. She has that right. But Bowers was just acting vindictively.

I hope those kids do prove you wrong. If they do, we all win, including you.

Anonymous said...

I also hope everyone is a winner. No one wants to see this fail. Maybe Conrad does. It is going to take alot of work to do this. And the kids parents need to teach their kids common sence and respect to authority. Unfortunataly we don't always get to choose the rules ourselves but we do get to decide if we want to be good decent people who obey the rules or try peacefully and legally to change them.

Attitude is big. With a bad one we get no recognition but negative. If it is good we get positive recognition that gets results.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps he should be referred to as COMRADE Bowers!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 1:23, Actually I referred to Bowers in one of my previous posts as Comrade Bowers.

Anonymous said...


Is this the same Conrad Bowers that is part of the Easton Shadow Government? So called FEMA Consultant

Badapple EU

Anonymous said...


You don't happen to know his wife's name? Just checking a link

Badapple EU

Bernie O'Hare said...

Badapple, His wife's name is carol. i know he goes to Easton oncer per week. What have you got?

Anonymous said...

Let them skate! Let them skate! Let them skate!

Unknown said...

I stumbled upon these articles when researching the term "The world needs ditch diggers too." As a 32 year old feller whom spent all his youth skateboarding I would like to bring up some other points not mentioned. Skateboarding taught me persistance in the fact that it is an individual sport, your measure of success being very apparant and obvious - either you learn to do a trick or not. Skateboarding taught me problem solving in the fact that there is no teacher or coach, it is up to you to learn correct technique and have your own motivation. I also feel skateboarding promotes creativity (and therefore creative thinking). It is up to the individual to decide what tricks he likes to do, in what order, over what obstacles, etc. All of these things combined I feel have enabled me to be my own boss and start/own/run my own business for the past 10 years. I don't think everyone will get the same things I got from it, but the same could be true of any experience. I just felt compelled to mention these positive aspects of skateboarding as they have come to my attention over the years of watching my 14 nieces and nephews grow up (some own skateboards, some don't). Also, please tell the ditch-digger idiot that pro skateboarding is a 6-figure job these days.

Bernie O'Hare said...


I don't know if you'll ever visit this blog again, but I will be sure and note your comments in a separate post.

Anonymous said...

Skateboarding is fine. Don't force taxpayers to indulge it, however. Fall back on those lessons of skateboarding (e.g. independence, self reliance) and fund your own indulgence with the pride of knowing you did it without my tax dollars. Good grief.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Dude, I agree, and so does Naz boro council. Not one dime of taxpayer money went to this. i explained this before. Good grief!

Anonymous said...

You can count the number of pro skateboarders earning six figures on probably two hands.

And none of them list Nazareth, PA as their hometown. Try AZ, CA, FL, TX or some other warm clime.

Keep dreaming Shaun White wanna-be. Jeff Spicoli is more like it!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Sorry, dude. After reading that remark, I went out and bought a board and turned pro. I skateboarded to the courthouse today amidst cheers from all the Nazareth cops, and borough council is about to give me a big endorsement deal.

Anonymous said...

Why the hate towards these skateboarders. Man I was in H.S. sports before this came along. I can't count how many guys sit in the bar reliving the glory of the gridiron cause they did nothing else in life. Alot of kids in traditonal sports are into drugs and worse. Don't judge a book by it's cover.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 12:19,

Skateboarders, by their very nature, are anti-establishment and rebel against things like coaches or traditional settings. I suppose many old coots, who never skateboarded themselves, don't understand that this is a very physical activity, just like football. We tend to fear or dislike new things. I hope the situation changes.

Anonymous said...

Huh, I wouldn't compare skateboarding to football. As a person who participated in both activities throughout high school, I can assure you that football is absolutely brutal (more so during practices than the games) than skateboarding ever will be. Bernie, I agree that skateboarding is physical, but I don't think their is a sport out there (besides some form of boxing/fighting) that is more physical than football.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 9:09,

I only played football, and not very well.

My statement was misleading.

Nick's comment attested to the valuable things he learned from skateboarding. And when he did that, he reminded me of the old farts among us who credit their success to other sports like football.

That's what I should have said.

Anonymous said...

I know alot of those kids who skateboard as they are peers of my children. Many of them either weren't talented enough (not their fault) or didn't enjoy or want to work hard enough to play the stick and ball sports.

Now they have gravitated towards this less structured endeavor. That is their decision and I am fine with it as long as they stay out of my driveway and porch.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Many of them either weren't talented enough (not their fault) or didn't enjoy or want to work hard enough to play the stick and ball sports.

Or maybe they are just as talented but don't like the structured environment of organized sports. As someone who coaches kids in Allentown, there's a lot not to like. I see plenty of goofy parents and coaches.

Most kids drop out of organized sports by the time they turn 13. And in many cases, those kids are as gifted as the ones who endure.

I am glad these kids have found something else they enjoy and that is quite physical, when you get right down to it. And these kids learn valuable lessons from boarding, as Nick points out.

It also keeps them away from drugs and gangs.

Take a look at the pro sports, especially pro football. it promotes a gang and drug mentality. Steroids are rampant, and the gang mentality is evidenced by Vick's arrest yesterday for his heavy involvement in dog fights.

When I think about that, it makes me want to encourage by grandson to pick up a board.

Anonymous said...

No, these are kids who flamed out in other sports for whatever reason. It's not that they weren't encouraged and in many cases, coached, by their parents (right, Jack).

They just weren't good enough to continue in those stick and ball sports.

As I have said before, Bernie, you know these kids in passing. We know them intimately as they have been in our face for the past ten years.

Anonymous said...

Boy, Nazareth has turned into a snooty town. These kids could'nt cut it in 'stick and ball' sports? What happened, their old man not a coach. Their mom's not raising money for the PTO. Come on people there is more politics in H.S. sports then on local police Dept.'s. Thats been going on for years. No sour grapes I did fine but I don't look back and pretend I did'nt see it.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 6:54,

I've lived in Nazareth many years. There are many good people here, but it certainly is "different." I think, like you, that we've got more than our fair share of snobs. And it's real apparent in the skateboarding discussion.

Unknown said...

In reading further banter I would like to throw in my 2 cents on a couple of things - there are more than 2 skateboarders making 6 figures. My girlfriend use to have a music related sponsorship from DC Shoes so I know roughly how much a number of these people make. And one of those people hails from West Chester, PA. I live in Pittsburgh and from the era when I used to skateboard there were 3 sponsored riders from here, one of them going on to be pro. If the arguement your trying to make is that most skateboarders wont make a lot of money you are not doing it effectively with comparisons to football. Think about the percentage of kids who play football who will ever actually make money doing it. Think about how many kids are in college football that there is no way they will make it to pro then multiply that for high school and so on. I would also like to disagree with whomever made the comment about skateboardng being nowhere near as physical as football. Skatebaording, like most athletic sports, is as physical as you make it. Skateboarding is the equivelent of throwing yourself off ledges on to concrete all day over and over. It was physical enough for me to break my arm twice, tailbone once, collar bone once, and shatter bones in my face. It's also physical enough that over ten years removed from it I still live a healthy active lifestyle with more low impact sports (tons of cycling) but 2 years ago I went skateboarding with some old friends and could barely last a couple of hours, and I do centuries on my bike.